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Georgia coach Kirby Smart shares fascinating insight into football future

Georgia coach Kirby Smart shares fascinating insight into football future

Georgia coach Kirby Smart shares fascinating insight into football future

Georgia coach Kirby Smart shares fascinating insight into football future

Georgia football-UGA-Kirby Smart

ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart has seen the future of college football, and it’s coming at him and his championship caliber program fast.

The early signing date combined with a more liberal transfer policy has Smart and his coaching staff adjusting on the fly. Both changes hit the Bulldogs hard this year with four juniors declaring for the NFL draft.

Smart sees a trend developing that could make his job harder.

“I don’t mind what (rules) we have now, I just don’t know that it’s congruent with the NFL process with the declare date being January 14,” Smart said Wednesday afternoon on the Paul Finebaum Show on the SEC Network. “I’m finding out January 14 who’s leaving, but yet I’m signing kids in December who are coming in (January).

“I think more and more teams, especially upper echelon programs, will have rosters full of freshman or sophomores and a few juniors, because your (would-be) seniors are coming out early, or they’re transferring, they’re going in the (transfer) portal if they’re not playing,” he said.

“So your teams will always be loaded with youth, and probably whoever manages that best, is who’s going to remain at the top of college football.”

Smart has had as demanding of an offseason as any coach in the country.

There has been a scramble  to replace seniors graduating, juniors leaving and former celebrated recruits Justin Fields and Luke Ford transferring.

Smart is also replacing veteran coordinators Jim Chaney and Mel Tucker.

RELATED: Justin Fields speaks, not looking back

WATCH: Mel Tucker on what he’s leaving behind at UGA

The expedited recruiting process and proliferation of early enrollees is something Smart, a fourth-year head coach, says he’s still learning to deal with.

“The transition from the last (regular-season) game of the year, through an (early) signing date — that occurs earlier than you know what your juniors are doing —   before you have your last (bowl) game of the year,” Smart said, listing the exhaustive order of events that included a surprising 28-21 loss to Texas.

“There’s a lot of distractions around that, that’s something as a coach you grow and learn to manage,” Smart said. “The leadership of your team has been so critical. The last three or four weeks, I’ve been so pleased to go into our team meetings and see our kids working out in the weight room.”

Georgia has 14 early enrollees, a handful of them capable of making an immediate impact.

Smart was also pleased to close the 2019 signing class on Wednesday by flipping 5-star receiver George Pickens from Auburn to UGA.

RELATED: 3 things about what adding George Pickens means to UGA

Finebaum pointed out Smart has become known for his recruiting prowess as much as his on-field success, and asked him how he’s been able to recruit so well so soon at Georgia.

“It’s because we work really hard at it, we build relationships with these kids’ families from Day One, we’re well into the 2020 and 2021 class,” Smart said. “The entire month of January we spend trying to get close to 2020 kids, and I always think it’s about relationships.

“We dedicate a lot of time to recruiting because it’s the lifeblood of our program. We have a tremendous program to sell, when you think about the marketability and ability to play national TV games.”

Smart said Georgia played in three of the five biggest games of the past two seasons, “so that’s been really good exposure for our program.”

The Super Bowl was, too, as the Bulldogs had more former players on the teams’ rosters (5) than any other program.

RELATED: Super Bowl Sunday provided publicity boost for Georgia football

“I think it helped having the Super Bowl in Atlanta …. with us having the most players in the Super Bowl between the two teams,” Smart said. “From the University of Georgia, (there) in Atlanta, which is our home base.

“All the things that happened for us, it was tremendous for us to be in some homes at that time.”

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Local News

  • The Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful organization is holding a Saturday fundraiser in downtown Athens: the 10th annual Dirty Dance Event is set for 5 o’clock at the Little Kings Shuffle Club.    From KAACB…   Bring your family and friends down to Little Kings Shuffle Club in downtown Athens on August 24, 2019 to give litter the hustle! KACCB is hosting its 10th annual DIRTY DANCE BENEFIT. This event will raise funds for KACCB’s mission of working toward a cleaner, more beautiful environment. It's time to show your support for the organization that provides Athens with daffodil plantings on the loop, the Litter Hotline, Christmas tree recycling, the Community Toolshed, Adopt-A-Highway, cigarette butt receptacles, school planting and beautification…and many other initiatives! The event will start at 5:00 PM and will feature dinner for sale. Dance performances are scheduled throughout the night, but there will be plenty of time for you and your kids to shake it yourselves! Face Painting and a photo booth will be available. Volunteers will be on hand to craft with kids and there will be a great raffle for family themed gift baskets, $1 per ticket! A $5.00 suggested donation (and $3.00 for kids) will grant you access into this fun, family event. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Find more information at keepathensbeautiful.org. We hope to see you and your family there!
  • Possibly thousands of children and adults alike will be out across the state with clipboards and sharp eyes Friday and Saturday, out where flowers are growing to spot and count certain kinds of insect. They will be to be part of the first “Great Georgia Pollinator Census,” launched by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension this year after a two-year pilot program.    The census has three basic purposes, says organizer Becky Griffin, community and school garden coordinator with the Extension’s Center for Urban Agriculture. One goal is simply to get a statewide snapshot of the bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths and other insects that are crucial in plants’ life cycles by spreading pollen.    Griffin also hopes to encourage the creation of sustainable habitats for pollinators and to increase public entomological literacy. She says it's the first such survey that's been done in the country, to her knowledge volunteers are being asked to check off eight categories - carpenter bees, bumblebees, honey bees, small bees, wasps, flies, butterflies/moths, and other insects. 
  • Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, Republican from Jefferson, announces the schedule for his annual Clean Energy Roadshow. The tour, which spotlights alternative fuel vehicles, begins Tuesday in Atlanta and includes stops in Augusta, Albany, Savannah, and Macon.    ATLANTA – August 27th (Tue) – Southface Institute AUGUSTA – August 28th (Wed) – Augusta State University ALBANY – September 24th (Tue) – Albany State University SAVANNAH – October 8th (Tue) – Georgia Tech Savannah Campus ATLANTA – October 16th (Wed) – Georgia Power Company Customer Resource Center MACON – October 17th (Thu) – Middle Georgia Regional Commission
  • --- A late second half goal pushed Purdue over the Georgia soccer team, 1-0, in the season opener at Folk Field on Thursday night.   “It was a tough game,” Georgia head coach Billy Lesesne said. “We fought hard and had some good battling out there, but just didn’t get the result we were after. Purdue is a good team and this is a tough atmosphere to play in. I thought the game was pretty even for most of it and then they got a late goal. We played hard throughout, but we weren’t as clinical in the final third as we need to be. We lost a little bit of our shape in midfield, but there were bright spots. There are things we need to work on to improve. We have to regroup over the next couple of days to prepare for our home opener on Sunday against Binghamton.”   With a matured team filling the pitch for the 2019 season, Haley Sorrell is the only freshman that made her starting lineup debut in the season opener. Three other rookies played against the Boilermakers, including Chloe Chapman, Jocelyn Hugo, and Mallie McKenzie.    To start, the Bulldogs (0-1) commanded the field, controlling possession and keeping the Boilermakers outside of the final third. A foul outside the box gave Reagan Glisson a free kick opportunity at the 21-minute mark, which went into the hands of the goalkeeper. The junior forward finished the game with three shots, two on target.    The Boilermakers (1-0) took their first shot of the game with 10 minutes left in the first half.    Both teams turned up the energy in the second half. With about 20 minutes left in the game, Bella Ponzi took a shot outside the 18 that went wide left and Delaney Erwin followed that up with a shot that was barely right of the net for the Bulldogs’ best look of the night.   It was Purdue that capitalized on an opportunity in the 82nd minute with a shot from Sarah Griffith to make the score 1-0.    The Bulldogs finished with seven shots and four saves made by sophomore goalkeeper Emory Wegener.    The home opener for the Bulldogs is set for Sunday, August 25 against Binghamton at 1 p.m. Admission to the Turner Soccer Complex is free. 
  • Today is a groundbreaking day in Athens: a 10 o’clock ceremony marks the start of work on a new Center for Art and Nature at the State Botanical Garden on South Milledge Avenue.  The University of Georgia’s University Curriculum Committee holds its first meeting of the new fall semester: it’s set for 3:30 at New College on Herty Drive in Athens.  It is billed as the University of Georgia’s largest annual day of community service: this year’s Dawg Day of Service is set for Saturday, with volunteers gathering at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning at UGA’s Tate Student Center. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Kirby Smart sends the same message every year, that the best players will play, regardless of class. That was evident last season when Georgia led the nation with three FWAA Freshmen All-American selections. There are young Bulldogs are starting the year at the head of the class once again. Georgia is one of three schools with four freshman players on the FWAA Freshman Player of the Year watch list, matching SEC rivals Tennessee and Alabama in that regard. Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence was the FWAA Freshman of the Year last season, garnering that honor before he beat Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tailback Zamir White and receiver George Pickens are two of the 37 offensive players on the watch list released on Friday. White, coming off ACL tears in each knee the past two years, is also a candidate for the FWAA Most Inspirational Player of the Year Award. Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez won that award last season. WATCH: Zamir White runs through another linebacker The Bulldogs have two players among the 37 defensive and special teams players on the watch list, outside linebackers Azeez Ojulari an Nolan Smith. Georgia might have had a fifth player on the watch list, but inside linebacker Nakobe Dean has been hobbled by a high ankle sprain. The FWAA Freshman Watch List will be updated weekly. The three Bulldogs on last year's FWAA Freshman All-American Team were: Defensive lineman Jordan Davis Offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson Offensive lineman Cade Mays Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm led the FWAA Freshman All-American Team in 2017, and was joined by left tackle Andrew Thomas. Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was a member of the 2016 FWAA freshman team, and so was receiver Demetris Robertson. Robertson, however, was at Cal when he was recognized. Georgia RB Zamir White is a leading candidate for the Shaun Alexander Inspirational Freshman of the Year Award after recovering from ACL tears that prematurely ended the past two seasons. Read our full story here: https://t.co/HFXqBBz6OW (Photo: Steven Colquitt/UGA) pic.twitter.com/vALXc2DfdI Freshman Focus (@FocusFreshman) August 20, 2019 FWAA Freshman All-American Watch List SEC Bo Nix-QB-Auburn Owen Pappoe-OLB-Auburn Kenyon Green-OL-Texas A&M DeMarvin Leal-DL-Texas A&M George Pickens-WR-Georgia Zamir White (RS)-RB-Georgia Nolan Smith-LB-Georgia Azeez Ojulari (RS)-LB-Georgia Matt Corral (RS)-QB-Ole Miss Jerrion Ealy-RB-Ole Miss Trey Knox-WR-Arkansas Greg Brooks Jr.-DB Arkansas John Emery Jr.-RB-LSU Derek Stingley Jr.-CB-LSU Cade York-Kicker-LSU Wanya Morris-OL-Tennessee Darnell Wright-OL-Tennessee Henry To'o To'o-LB-Tennessee Warren Burrell-CB-Tennessee Evan Neal-OL-Alabama Will Reichard-Kicker-Alabama DJ Dale-DL-Alabama Justin Eboigbe-DL-Alabama Zacch Pickens-DL-South Carolina Jared Casey-LB-Kentucky Kaiir Elam-DB-Florida Big 12 Trejan Bridges-WR-Oklahoma Spencer Sanders (RS)-QB-Oklahoma State Tyler Lacy (RS)-DL-Oklahoma State Jordan Whittington-RB-Texas Jake Smith-WR-Texas Ayodele Adeoye (RS)-LB-Texas Breece Hall-RB-Iowa State Will McDonald (RS)-LB-Iowa State Pac-12 Jayden Daniels-QB-Arizona State Jalen 'Boobie' Curry-WR-Arizona Drake Jackson-DL-USC Sean Rhyan-OL-UCLA Dimitri Stanley (RS)-WR-Colorado Mark Perry-DB-Colorado Mycah Pittman-WR-Oregon Kayvon Thibodeaux-DL-Oregon Verone McKinley III (RS)-DB-Oregon Cameron Williams-DB-Washington Ryan Sanborn-Punter-Stanford Ben Lennon-Punter-Utah Big Ten Noah Cain-RB-Penn State Justin Shorter (RS)-WR-Penn State Rasheed Walker (RS)-OL-Penn State Zach Charbonnet-RB-Michigan Daxton Hill-DB-Michigan Wan'Dale Robinson-WR-Nebraska David Bell-WR-Purdue George Karlaftis-DL-Purdue Garrett Wilson-WR-Ohio State Jaelen Gill (RS)-WR-Ohio State Cameron Williams-LB-Indiana Julian Barnett-DB-Michigan State ACC Sam Howell-QB-North Carolina Jarren Williams (RS)-QB-Miami Zion Nelson-OL-Miami Nolan Groulx-WR-Wake Forest Frank Ladson Jr.-WR-Clemson KJ Henry (RS)-DL-Clemson Zonovan Knight-RB-NC State Payton Wilson (RS)-LB-NC State Savion Jackson-DL-NC State Jowon Briggs-DL-Virginia Dontae Lucas-OL-Florida State Jaleel McRae-LB-Florida State Akeem Dent-DB-Florida State Independent Jarrett Patterson (RS)-OL-Notre Dame Jacob Lacey-DL-Notre Dame Jay Bramblett-Punter-Notre Dame The post Zamir White among 4 Georgia players on FWAA Freshman watch list appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The nation’s No.10 overall recruit and top tight end recruit, Arik Gilbert helped Marietta High School upset Rome High School 41-14 in the Corky Kell Classic Thursday night. Gilbert hauled in a one-handed catch in the back corner of the endzone to give the Blue Devils a 13-0 lead early in the game. According to 247Sports crystal ball predictions, Gilbert is expected to commit to Georgia. Based on Gilbert’s 247Sports rating, he would be the 11-best recruit to commit to Georgia since 247Sports started rating recruits.
  • ATHENS Georgia football graduate transfer Lawrence Cager is the first to admit it has been quite a transition these past few months of his life. 'Obviously, it's two different sides of the totem pole, Miami and Athens,' said Cager, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound receiver who led the Hurricanes in touchdown catches and yards per reception last season. RELATED: Fascinating story of how Lawrence Cager ended up at UGA 'But I love it here. It's a great place and the team welcomed me with open arms, (and) Coach Smart welcomed me with open arms. I'm just happy to be here.' It was a tough 2018 season for Miami under former coach Mark Richt, particularly with an unsettled quarterback situation. RELATED: Fire and Ice, Cager compares Mark Richt to Kirby Cager knew that coming to Georgia he wouldn't have that issue with third-year starting quarterback Jake Fromm under center. WATCH: Lawrence Cager remembers Kirby Smart recruiting call He also knew what he was getting in an offensive coordinator in recently promoted James Coley. Coley was Miami's offensive coordinator Cager's freshman year and recruited him to the Hurricanes. 'Honestly, I didn't even look at the receiver situation,' said Cager, who has been sharing first team reps in the WR rotation throughout fall camp. 'Coach Coley and Coach Smart called me as soon as I put my name in the portal.' Some thought Cager might declare himself eligible for the NFL draft. Cager is already on the Senior Bowl radar. But Cager decided a chance to win a championship at Georgia and showcase his abilities more was the better way to go. 'I put my trust in those guys 10 times out of 10,' Cager said. 'Coach Coley when he coached me at Miami, and Coach Smart recruiting me heavy when I was being recruited by Alabama, so I just trusted them and we'll see how it goes.' It is well documented that Georgia will be relying on new and inexperienced receivers this season. Two of the three Bulldogs' receivers drafted into the NFL were underclassmen, and then leading returning receiver Jeremiah Hollomon transferred to Florida International this summer. RELATED: Breaking down Georgia's 8 transfers this offseason Coley said earlier in fall camp that Cager has been a good fit for Georgia on and off the field. 'Just coming to work every day and enjoying the atmosphere of what we have and being positive with learning and the learning curve,' Coley said. 'The big thing that he brings, he brings experience. So where you sit back and you say, well, I wonder if this guy's going to make this play in a particular time'. 'Veteran guys, you've seen it happen and you know that they've been those spotlights.' And, Coley said, he knows what Cager will do out of the spotlight. 'Knowing him a little bit further, working with him for a full year,' Coley said, 'you knew what type of character kid he is.' Indeed, Cager has done his best to use his experience to help lead in the receivers room. Senior Tyler Simmons, with nine catches last season, is UGA's leading returning receiver. 'From a receiver room aspect, we came in with the mindset, myself, Tyler, all the receivers, especially me and Tyler being seniors , that it's on us,' Cager said. 'Whether it's making plays on the perimeter or special teams, a long as we have that mindset that it's on us and we come with that mindset that it's on us, then we can attack every day like it's a game.' Georgia football fall camp D'Andre Swift jersey watch in full effect Versatile Cade Mays elevating his game, puts rough recruitment behind New DC Dan Lanning impressing early in fall camp Kenny McIntosh stands out in Scrimmage Two Kirby Smart breaks down 'spirited' Scrimmage Two Georgia football injury updates, post-Scrimmage Two Could RB James Cook be biggest UGA surprise? J.R. Reed says Havoc Rate is out the roof The post Georgia WR Lawrence Cager bought in, ready to attack every day' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football players have put training camp behind them and are working on Vanderbilt, precisely how Kirby Smart had planned. The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs play at Vanderbilt at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 31 in Nashville, their long-term goal a national championship, but the immediate focus on the Commodores. The good news at practice on Thursday was preseason All-American and Heisman Trophy candidate D'Andre Swift back in a red practice jersey. RELATED: Kirby Smart plays off D'Andre Swift jersey color This is where Smart would roll his eyes and tell the media that way too much is being made of what color jersey Swift is wearing in practices. But this is also where many Georgia fans, aware of Swift's injury history and his importance to the teams' title hopes, want to know more. Swift was nagged by injuries last season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in January of 2018. Swift was limited in spring drills, and then things got worse at South Carolina last season when Swift suffered a foot injury. Once healthy last season, Swift was seemingly unstoppable in November, averaging more than 9 yards per carry during a stretch of wins over Florida, Kentucky and Auburn. Georgia was arguably playing the best football in the nation last November, and many are expecting big things from Swift this season. So when Swift was late coming out for practice on Aug. 13, getting extra treatment on the heels of Scrimmage One, per NFL scouts, there were concerns. Had Swift aggravated the groin injury? Was it something else? Or, was it nothing. When Swift was back at practice later in the week, showing no-ill effects or wearing any added braces or tape, all seemed well. Then came Wednesday's practice this week, when Swift was in a black practice jersey. The non-contact jersey could have been as simple as making sure Swift didn't take any necessary hits in thud drills. But then, there might also have been more to the story and still might be as it has been a very physical fall camp and Swift saw hitting action in Scrimmage One like anyone else. Either way, Smart was saying when asked about Swift's non-contact jersey on Wednesday, playing off the question by claiming he was merely trying to distract the media. Speculation at this point isn't worth much, as even if Swift is nursing a bruised shoulder or sternum there's no reason to believe he couldn't be ready to play by Aug. 31. And, if for some reason the injury proves more serious, Georgia has tremendous talent and depth in the offensive backfield. Senior tailback Brian Herrien, who has been first through the drill work of late, was actually more effective running the ball in the Sugar Bowl than Swift. RELATED: Kirby Smart explains benefit of multiple 1,00o-yard rushers Further, sophomore James Cook has had a tremendous offseason of growth, drawing consistent praise from his hard-to-please head coach. Zamir White's comeback from ACL surgery last August has been well-documented, creating a sense of guarded optimism around the program that the No. 1 back in the 2018 signing class might indeed make a significant impact. Finally, incoming freshman tailback Kenny McIntosh has proven his skills, drawing praise from Smart after a strong Scrimmage Two performance. Other reported observations included Cade Mays continuing to work with the first-team offensive line, and inside linebacker Nakobe Dean (ankle) and Jamaree Salyer (lower leg) continue to be out of practice. Georgia football fall camp Versatile Cade Mays elevating his game, puts rough recruitment behind New DC Dan Lanning impressing early in fall camp Kenny McIntosh stands out in Scrimmage Two Kirby Smart breaks down 'spirited' Scrimmage Two Georgia football injury updates, post-Scrimmage Two Could RB James Cook be biggest UGA surprise? J.R. Reed says Havoc Rate is out the roof The post Georgia football practice: D'Andre Swift jersey watch (red) in full effect appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart had his game face on following Wednesday's practice, at times, downright edgy. The fourth-year Georgia football coach is typically no-nonsense when it comes to media sessions, but there was an added edge with the season-opening game less than a week-and-a-half away. 'We weren't very good Tuesday but we had a better practice today,' Smart said. 'The leaders stepped up, challenged them to have a better practice. I thought they had a better practice today.' Good thing, because positions remain up for grabs at most every spot on the team, it seems. Smart elaborated on several position battles, some more unexpected than others, such as in the secondary where Eric Stokes has yet to lockdown a starting job. 'He (Stokes) is in competition right now, there are four guys out there at corner who are competing and he knows that he has top step up and play well every day because you're only judged based on your last play,' Smart said. 'He's challenging for one of those starting positions.' Sophomore Tyson Campbell has been running opposite Stokes with the Ones. Freshman Tyrique Stevenson has been nicked up but he's one of the other corners pushing for playing time, along with junior college transfer D.J. Daniel. The 'star' position the fifth defensive back is another heated competition between Mark Webb and Divaad Wilson. 'They've both done a good job, they're both competitive, both of those kids probably deserve to play,' Smart said. 'They've worked really hard, and they're different. They're similar, they're similar in body types, they're physical, but they're different and they've both done a good job. 'We hope to be able to keep guys fresh and play the best guy. Sometimes you've got to go with the hot hand and sometimes you've got to go with the guy who had the best week of practice.' Smart said Tyrique McGhee, who played the Star last season, is playing more corner because the Bulldogs want to go bigger and more physical at the position. 'I expect Tyrique to play a lot, but Tyrique is a very dominant special teams player who can play strong safety, free safety, star, money, and corner, very unique player,' Smart said. 'A utility guy who can play a little bit of everything and we expect him to do that and he's in competition to get playing time at, really, all positions. 'He really hasn't played much star because we've got those other guys reps.' Georgia football coach Kirby Smart Kirby Smart talks up 'everyday' competition Versatile Cade Mays elevating his game, puts rough recruitment behind New DC Dan Lanning impressing early in fall camp Kenny McIntosh stands out in Scrimmage Two Kirby Smart breaks down 'spirited' Scrimmage Two Georgia football injury updates, post-Scrimmage Two Could RB James Cook be biggest UGA surprise? J.R. Reed says Havoc Rate is out the roof Leave a Comment The post Edgy Georgia football coach Kirby Smart breaks down cornerback battles appeared first on DawgNation.