By CHARLES ODUM
Quarterback D’Wan Mathis, who opened the season as No. 11 Georgia’s starter, has entered the NCAA transfer portal.
Coach Kirby Smart said Monday he wanted Mathis, a redshirt freshman, to continue his career at Georgia, where JT Daniels has emerged as the starter.
“I am excited to see his future,” Smart said of Mathis. “He’s going to be a really good football player. We want him to stay here. There’s no doubt we want him to stay here. We have encouraged him to stay here. But I also respect that is his decision, and we are going to help him every way we can with a transition. I think he’s got a bright future.”
Mathis, a redshirt freshman, was not with the Bulldogs for Saturday’s 45-16 win at South Carolina on Saturday. That led to questions that Mathis might enter the transfer portal as the Bulldogs prepare for this week’s game against Vanderbilt.
Smart said Mathis “has handled everything first class.”
“Every conversation he’s had with me has been the right way,” Smart said. “He did not want to be a distraction for the team, and he was very hurt and disappointed that things came out before the game. That bothered him because he did not want to be a distraction for the team.”
Mathis could not hold the starting job after winning a preseason competition after Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, the projected starter, opted out of the season.
Stetson Bennett replaced Mathis in Georgia’s win over Arkansas to open the season. Mathis completed 8 of 17 passes for 55 yards with an interception before giving way to Bennett.
Daniels passed for 401 yards and four touchdowns in his debut, a 31-24 win over Mississippi State on Nov. 21. Daniels led a more balanced offense against South Carolina.
Mathis enrolled at Georgia in 2019 before severe headaches and sinus pressure led to him undergoing surgery to remove a cyst from his brain and sitting out the season.
Mathis (6-5, 205) offered a unique combination of size, speed and arm strength. He completed 12 of 30 passes for 89 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Mathis, a native of Belleville, Michigan, initially committed to Ohio State. Mathis changed his decision and signed with Georgia after Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State.
Georgia has Daniels, Bennett and freshman Carson Beck as its scholarship quarterbacks.
Tight end Tre’ McKitty, a graduate transfer from Florida State, said he talked with Mathis about his decision.
“I was pretty close to D’Wan so me and him had some conversations about it,” McKitty said Monday. “… I did the same thing. We’re in the same position, me and D’Wan. I made a decision I thought was best for my future and he’s doing the same thing and I wish him the best of luck.”
Wide receiver Demetris Robertson, a transfer from California, also understands the decision by Mathis.
“He has to do what is best for himself and his future,” Robertson said. “I wish him the best of luck and I hope he does great things.”