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Post Calvin Johnson’s chances for Rookie of the Year just went down

Thursday May 17, 2007

That’s about the only positive spin I can put on the news that Paul Oliver is ineligible for the 2007 season:

University of Georgia senior cornerback Paul Oliver has failed to meet NCAA academic eligibility requirements for competition this fall and plans to petition the NFL for entry into the supplemental draft this summer.

Oliver’s situation does not preclude him from remaining enrolled in school. He was a regular starter last season and has started 15 games in his career.

“We’ll miss him for sure,” UGA head coach Mark Richt. “Of course, he could have made a decision to leave for the draft immediately after his junior season. He was aware there could be risks but he decided to continue in school and get closer to his degree. His best opportunity now to continue his playing career is through the supplemental draft coming up in July.”

Well, crap. Oliver had emerged into the one bonafide star on the Georgia defense, and it was considerably good news that he returned for his senior season. No more.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Georgia is relatively deep, if young, at cornerback. Bryan Evans, Prince Miller, Asher Allen, Ramarcus Brown, and Thomas Flowers are all experienced. It’s just that a player with Oliver’s ability is a difference-maker, and it’s not quite the same to say “we’ll be fine” at cornerback because of the depth. Championship-quality teams often have a few of those difference-making upperclassmen, and Georgia just lost one of their better ones from this year’s team.

With three new starters on a thin defensive line and three healthy linebackers at the moment, the Dawg defense really needed the secondary to be a rock of strength this year. With Oliver gone, the load just got a lot heavier for guys like Evans, Allen, and Brown, and Miller.

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