Kirby's Biggest Recruiting Challenge

ATHENS - A lot has been said about how Kirby Smart is affecting recruiting in a big way at Georgia, and it is true.

I’ve written about that extensively. 

What I want to write about now is the one challenge he’s not yet figured out in his short time at Georgia - getting an elite offensive lineman… specifically a tackle. 

Kirby signed the No. 2 quarterback in the country; weeks later be flipped the top in-state QB from Alabama to UGA… no small feat. Kirby managed to flip Tyler Simmons from the Tide on and David Marshall from Auburn on Signing Day. 

I know that Kirby can recruit. I’ve seen that first hand. He gets it. 

What I’ve not yet seen, however, is Kirby and his crew pulling in an elite offensive tackle. To be clear, that might be more difficult to do than get an elite quarterback - it might be… it depends on the year. 

Quarterbacks are always quintessentially national recruits - see UGA examples Aaron Murray, Jacob Eason and Matthew Stafford. But in the last five years, the top overall tackle in the country has left his home state more often than the top signal caller has. 

Running backs and linebackers might stay at home more often than not, but tackles are made to leave home, it seems. That’s not the end of the world if you are UGA. After all, the Bulldogs have failed to sign top 100 tackles E.J. Price (USC), Mitch Hyatt (Clemson) and Chuma Edoga (USC) in the last two classes.

Those are tough losses, but the Bulldogs have not replaced those in-state loses with out-of-state wins… at least not top 100 wins. UGA’s offensive line recruiting has, in all honesty, been what’s separated it from the cream of the crop in college football. Georgia has signed one - only one - Top 100 offensive lineman in the last five years: John Theus. 

Theus did what he was supposed to do. He was a four-year college starter who will be drafted by an NFL team in a few weeks. But Theus was alone in his top-100 pedigree. And that is a very real problem.

I believe in Kirby. I know what he can do. But the future at UGA will be more difficult and a national title less likely until this program gets more top offensive linemen… tackles in particular. 

Jacob Eason (or enter your favorite quarterback here) may be able to zip a ball down the field with the best of them. But he’s not going to be doing that while smelling the turf at Sanford Stadium. 

Tackles matter more than most think.

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