ATHENS - This is the new normal now.
Kirby Smart opened his first recruiting camp on Thursday by being in two places during the day. On Friday he stayed put in Athens, and with good reason. Kirby and company had a fairly solid camp group to open the weekend - headlined by 2018 Heard County QB Emory Jones and 2019 Callaway OL Keiondre Jones.
Jones got a lot of attention from UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney on Friday. Its the second day in a row that Jones has been in Athens. Clearly, UGA is still recruiting Jones hard. The question is just how far the Bulldogs have to go to realistically sign the athletic playmaker from west Georgia.
You could see that Jones still needs to work on accuracy during throwing drills. But he’s a raw player. Camps, too, might not be an ideal situation to evaluate him fully because they rarely take into consideration a movable quarterback like Jones’ ability to run. Its pretty much just throwing.
Keiondre Jones worked with Sam Pittman and the offensive line on one of the fields furthest from the central field where campers started their day. He’s a big, but raw prospect who seems - right now - to be an interior lineman. Power isn’t going to be a problem with him. He’s got big feet and hands. He’s not what I would call overweight, but he is big. It would have been interesting to see him use his hands to punch in offensive line-defensive line drills, but UGA policy mandates that the media leave 30 minutes before the end each camp session, and that really limits seeing those sorts of drills.
Because of the spread-out nature of the camp… Kirby and company used at least three fields spreading out the linebackers and defensive backs on one field, the offensive linemen on one field and the quarterbacks, receiver and running backs on one field… it was difficult to see each of the players who were competing. There appeared to be a few folks just watching during the camp, but for the most part the prospects in town were competing. They were just spread out - working in their position group with usually the UGA position coach and not fewer than two grad assistants or coaches - some positions had several coaches helping the assistant coaches.
UGA commit and Lowndes WR Xavier Jenkins was at camp as well as Bainbridge RB Dameon Pierce, Walton WR Dominick Blaylock, Southern Lab (LA) LB Chris Allen, Hattiesburg (MS) RB Fabian Franklin, Peach County ATH Kearis Jackson and Upson-Lee DL Travon Walker.
A slew of current UGA players were out at the camp including (but not necessarily limited to) Lorenzo Carter, Reggie Carter, Roquan Smith, Greg Pyke, Natrez Patrick and Jonathan Ledbetter.
My big takeaway from this camp is that UGA under Kirby Smart is going to have a beefed up presence of coaches at these camps. But there will be a slew of days where there will likely be maybe a dozen top players in camp, but probably not more than that. The days of 50 top-shelf players on campus at the same time is dead.
You could see what Georgia was trying to do philosophically moving forwards. By my count there were about ten legit players. Logistically, Kirby spreading that group out over a few fields so they could work with the position coaches recruiting them. If the kids on campus were looking for personal touch they certainly got it on Friday.