Kirby Smart has been the head coach at UGA for nearly half a year now. Not a stranger to recruiting in Georgia, Smart’s program has been aggressively focusing on the future. Smart and company have several new dynamics to deal with in today’s recruiting world.
First, Kirby and have many more resources at their disposal when compared to the previous staff. There could be a slew of reasons for that, but that reality exists for sure, and high school coaches can tell the difference.
Second, the old staff at UGA is still scattered around - Mark Richt didn’t retire (as so many folks thought he might), and is now recruiting against UGA as the head coach at Miami. Former recruiting stalwarts Thomas Brown and Bryan McClendon have landed in spots around the South.
Third, the world of recruiting was turned upside down this year with the NCAA’s back-and-forth decision making on recruiting camps. Smart and company are being forced to navigate uncharted waters regarding that new world of recruiting.
Finally, UGA’s new staff is trying to figure out recruiting all together for the first time. Most of Smart’s staff is working with him for the first time. It goes without saying that collectively the staff has never worked together as a staff on recruiting.
The word “aggressive” came up several times with many different coaches from around the state. That’s the main difference between the previous staff and this one.
“I think the new staff is very aggressive,” Central Gwinnett coach Todd Wofford said. “They are not as laid back with the coaches as well as players. There is a difference for sure.”
“If there was a slight difference I would just say Coach Smart is a little more aggressive and hands on in the recruiting process,” Brunswick coach Larry Harold said.
“I also see a lot of the aggressive similarities in how Coach Smart goes about his business compared to how Alabama has recruited here in the past,” Lanier coach Korey Mobbs said.
The idea (perhaps the fantasy) that UGA could “build a fence around the state” was also mentioned by several coaches.
“He really has a great plan and vision to put a fence around the state of Georgia for its top recruits,” Harold said.
“They are not letting the best talent leave Georgia,” Pace Academy OL coach Kevin Johnson said. “They are building a fence around this state.”
Kirby is getting high marks from several coaches as well regarding his direction of recruiting for the program.
“Coach Smart is very hands on and I've talked to him personally several times about our players that he is interested in,” Harold said.
“The old staff recruited Pace Academy hard like the new one, but the new football staff is doing everything the right way but letting the kids know they are wanted at UGA,” Johnson added.
“Things are just more open,” said one coach who did not want to be identified.
But many coaches also praised the efforts of Richt’s recruiting philosophy through the years.
“I had a personal great experience with the last staff and Coach Richt. They were active and very open in the recruiting process. I felt like they handled the Roquan Smith situation with great class, dignity, patience and persistence! After getting to know Coach Richt I love his character and beliefs as a man 1st and also as a football coach,” Harold said.
“Coach McClendon and Coach Brown did a great job recruiting here when they were at Georgia,” South Gwinnett coach John Small said.
“I thought Coach Richt’s staff did a great job,” Lanier coach Korey Mobbs said.
Another factor that popped up with multiple coaches: how UGA is recruiting talent-rich Gwinnett County.
“I would say the only difference is there is more of a Georgia presence in Gwinnett County every time they can be on the road during recruiting time,” Small said.
“I think it speaks volumes of the new staff that Mel Tucker has Gwinnett County, shows how important Gwinnett is. Coach Tucker was the first coach to visit Lanier on the first day of spring contact,” Mobbs added.
Discussion of assistant coaches also came up.
“The new staff at Georgia is doing a great job in recruiting,” Harold said. “Coach Sam Pittman and D.J. Looney (graduate assistant for the offense) always inquire about how things are going and keeping track of D'Antne Demery.”
An anonymous coach added: “Chaney communicates very well with me and comes around a lot. On campus recruiting is very accommodating now and I think they are putting even more funds toward recruiting.”