Georgia head coach Kirby Smart discusses the early signing period and UGA’s football recruiting after Wednesday afternoon’s practice.
“Well, kind of a confused state for me because I am used to coming in here to talk about practice,” said Coach Smart. “We just got through with practice. To be honest, my mind is on practice. My mind is on Oklahoma, but with this unique experience, it has been an interesting day, to say the least, with Signing Day going on. A lot of great kids choosing to come to Georgia. I am most excited”
The Bulldogs had an outstanding Wednesday to start off the early signing period, which will go through Friday, Dec. 22, and had 18 players sign their National of Letters of Intent with the University of Georgia. Nine of the players are planning to enroll early at UGA in January. And Georgia got a commitment from Spring Valley High School’s Channing Tindall to top it all off. Tindal makes one of five UGA commits that have not yet signed their National Letter of Intent.
But just six to seven months ago, Georgia’s 2018 recruiting class looked very different with only two prospects verbally committed headed into May. Kirby addressed how this recruiting developed over the last several months and went from just those two commits to the consensus No. 1 class in the country, as of right now. While fans may have been doing a lot of fretting, the UGA coaching staff was never concerned according to Coach Smart.
“I heard that everywhere I went and spoke and everybody you talked to there was all that concern. We were never concerned,” said Kirby. “I said repeatedly to people where I spoke that don’t worry about that. We are working on us. We are working internally on our organization and our development of our team. If you take care of your team, if you take care of what is inside your house, then things outside your house will do well. And we played well. You say ‘How do did we get from that point to this point?’ We played well. I think people saw the success we had and they saw a lot of the games we played and they want to be part of that winning program.”
One aspect of this 2018 class that has fans excited is Justin Fields, a prospect out of Harrison High School in Kennesaw, GA who is considered the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country. And those fans are not alone, as Kirby Smart is also excited about the potential of Fields.
“Exciting. I think everybody knows what he has been able to do,” said Coach Smart. “I have seen a lot of quarterbacks in my time. I thought the best evaluation of quarterbacks is when they go out to the Elite 11, they go to The Opening — I know it is t-shirt and shorts — but you are around some real alpha dogs when you are out there and he was one of the alpha dogs of the alpha dogs. He took over The Opening, he won a lot of games, he made throws and he did it all while keeping a calm, cool presence that is kind of unmatched. He is never real high, he is never real low. He is really exciting. He can win the game with his feet, but he can win the game with his arm and he is not afraid of competition. He has been very adamant that he wants to come in here and compete and he knows we are going to give him an opportunity to do that.”
Of course, a program can get the best quarterback, the best running back and the best receivers, but the offense won’t go unless there are five men in the trenches willing to do the dirty work. Kirby Smart knows that this is a key to building a championship caliber team and brought in offensive line coach Sam Pittman to build a “wall” for his skill players to play behind. The Bulldogs built on top of a stellar 2017 class that saw Georgia sign 5 highly touted big man with a 2018 group that consists of another five hog mollies who are regarded as some of the best in the country.
“I think it was one of you guys on the front row that pointed out that first class we did not really address the offensive line. We got pinned and I think Solomon (Kindley) and maybe Chris Barnes — you know we did not hit on all those guys that we really needed to and I think Sam (Pittman) took that to heart and I think Coach Pittman is one of the best recruiters in the country. He proved that by putting what was a really good offensive line group together last year and followed it up with another very complete, diverse group for this year.”
Kirby also shared his thoughts on Sam Pittman’s “Yes Sir…” Tweets on social media.
“The fact that he got those five linemen doesn’t creep me out at all. He can “yes sir” all he wants and I will be saying “yes sir” too,” Kirby added. “He does a great job of getting those kids to buy into the fact that he’s going to lead them, he’s going to be tough on them, he’s going to be honest with them. You can’t promise every guy playing time. Those kids that are coming in understand that they have to come in and work for it. What drew each of them to Georgia was Sam Pittman and the fact that he does it differently. He does it old school. He develops relationships. He sat right here in these seats and asked them what Instagram was and what Twitter was. He doesn’t care about that. He writes them hand-written letters. He does it the old-fashioned way and he forms relationships. There’s something to be said for that in today’s day and age of technology.”
“… We all as Georgia fans and Dawg Nation need to understand that those, I don’t know if there are expectations or what they are for the kids, have to be tempered,” stated Coach Smart. “Because last year’s class was anointed and this and that and that. Some of the kids have been successful. D’Andre Swift is a great example, Andrew Thomas. Some of them have worked really hard to get better. Regardless of what they’re rated, regardless of how many stars they have, they’re ours. It’s our job to develop them on and off the field. We’re excited about this group, but I’m not ready to call this the greatest class ever or anything like that because it doesn’t matter. So many people want to win the recruiting war. I really care nothing about that. I care so much more about how they behave and how they learn and how they grow when they get here. We have to grow these guys when they get here and we have to get them better.”
Here is Kirby Smart’s full press conference:
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