- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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It's that time of year that coaches dread, when unfortunately there tends to be as much activity off the field as on the field.
On Tuesday, we saw three projected defensive starters in the league -- Georgia safety Tray Matthews and Texas A&M linebacker Darian Claiborne and defensive tackle Isaiah Golden -- shown the proverbial door.
In the case of Claiborne and Golden, they were already on double-secret probation and ran out of chances after being arrested and charged with robbing three victims at gunpoint on May 23 after the three men agreed to purchase marijuana from Claiborne and Golden. Claiborne had already been arrested twice and Golden once in the last seven months.
Much will be made of the Aggies, especially as bad as they were on defense a year ago, being in no position to lose young talent the caliber of Claiborne and Golden. But Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is smart enough to know when enough is enough, and when you've got guys on your team who already have previous brushes with the law and are accused of robbing people at gunpoint (in a drug deal, no less), it's past time to cut your losses.
At Georgia, coach Mark Richt had obviously had enough with Matthews, who started six games a year ago in an injury-plagued freshman season. Matthews had shown promise and was a big hitter, but Richt's statement concerning Matthews' dismissal spoke volumes. Matthews was arrested in March, along with three other players, and charged with allegedly cashing school-issued financial aid checks twice.
"We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right," said Richt, who almost never publicly calls out players, be it current players or former players.
Ironically, Matthews tweeted that he'd likely wind up at Auburn or Louisville, a pair of schools that have become a safe house of sorts for Georgia players who get into trouble or decide to leave the program. Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins have transferred to Louisville, and Nick Marshall is entering his second season as Auburn's quarterback.
Just in the last five or six years, Richt has cut loose a ton of highly regarded talent. Other than Matthews, Harvey-Clemons and Marshall, some of the other names include Isaiah Crowell, Zach Mettenberger, Chris Sanders, Ty Flourney-Smith, Brent Benedict and Washaun Ealey.
Below is a list of the some bigger names around the SEC who've either been dismissed or have decided to transfer for various reasons since the end of last season:
Alabama: RB Alvin Kamara
Kentucky: QB Jalen Whitlow
LSU: QB Stephen Rivers
Missouri: WR Dorial Green-Beckham
Ole Miss: OT Austin Golson
Tennessee: QB Riley Ferguson