When Kirby Smart got the job as Georgia’s head coach two years ago, we knew he was a good recruiter. He had that reputation as an assistant at Alabama. We weren’t sure what he would do as a head coach because he had never been one before.
Well, we know after two years Smart is an outstanding head coach. And Smart proved once again with last Wednesday’s work he’s one of the best recruiters in the sport.
Smart’s third recruiting class as the head Bulldog was the top-ranked class in the country. Georgia has had a lot of great recruiting classes through the years, but nothing like this.
With the early signing period right before Christmas, we had an idea this was going to be a great class. Then Georgia finished with one more five-star prospect (cornerback Tyson Campbell) and three more four-star prospects on Wednesday.
There are a lot of stats to show how special this signing class may be for Georgia.
First, 11 of the 26 signees were once committed to a different school. The fact Georgia’s coaches did not give up and won them over is impressive. And these prospects weren’t committed to secondary schools. Every one of them were headed to major SEC or national programs, but Smart turned them to Georgia.
Georgia had eight five-star prospects, according to Rivals.com. The only other time that happened was in 2004 with USC. The other 13 SEC schools signed a total of four five-star prospects this year – three by Alabama and one by LSU.
How about the fact that Alabama’s class did not have one prospect from the state of Georgia? That’s impressive. Smart and his coaches are closing the borders, and we all know how important it is for the Bulldogs to keep the in-state talent.
Then there are the rankings. Georgia finished with 3,461 points in the Rivals.com rankings. That was 269 points ahead of second-place Ohio State. Remember Georgia’s heralded class from 2011, the one former head coach Mark Richt labeled his “dream team?” Well, that class finished fifth in the 2011 Rivals rankings with 2309 points – some 1152 points lower than this year.
In the last nine years of Richt’s tenure, his classes averaged a ranking of eighth-best in the country. In Smart’s first three years, they’ve been ranked sixth, third and now first. That’s an average ranking of third in the country for the beginning of Smart’s tenure.
The difference between eighth and third might not seem like much, but it is. It’s the difference between having impact players who can stop a wide receiver on second-and-26 and one who can’t. It’s the difference between having several five-star prospects and not having any at all. It’s the difference in having five-star offensive linemen, something Georgia never really had before.
The expectations at Georgia will now soar through the roof with an increase in the talent level. There’s no doubt there is much more talent on the roster now than when Smart took over. Fans got teased with the almost-win in the National Championship Game, so they’ll naturally want more with even better players in the program.
Yeah, not to bury the lead here, but the conclusion of Georgia’s Signing Day success is the Bulldogs are loaded. How many times has recruiting ended and we wondered why Georgia didn’t take care of a certain position? Well, they got talent at every spot on the field with this year’s bunch. The depth looks, at least on paper right now, unprecedented.
A recruiting analyst said a few months ago that with the talent coming in, the 2017 Georgia roster may be the least talented of the next four teams. Well, that 2017 team almost won it all, which gives Georgia fans hope there are more important January games to come with the work Smart has done on the recruiting trail.
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