Kirby Smart’s program holds a unique distinction. The Georgia Bulldogs were the lone Power 5 team to not take in a single transfer player. The biggest transfer portal win for the Bulldogs wasn’t the addition of another player, but rather the retention of offensive tackle Amarius Mims.
The sophomore offensive line entered the transfer portal in April, only to remove his name that same month.
“He’s victim to what every kid is. Opportunity vs. grinding it out, fighting it out and working his way up,” Smart said of Mims. “He was doing really well in the spring and then he had an injury and from practice seven or eight on and that was tough. That missed time affected his ability to go out there and fight for playing time. He’s had a tremendous work ethic since returning, he’s been really positive since returning.”
In Georgia’s case, the transfer portal mostly proved to be a one-way street this year. Thirteen scholarship players left the program, with Jermaine Burton perhaps being the most impactful departure. He will now be playing for the Crimson Tide this season.
Related: Alabama QB Bryce Young shares insight on Jermaine Burton
As for whether that was intentional or not, Smart shrugged it off. The Bulldogs battled for certain players in the transfer portal. They just weren’t successful in landing any of their coveted targets.
“There were several guys that we thought made our roster better that we just lost out on,” Smart said. “Positions we needed we just didn’t win on. We weren’t just going to take one to take one. We didn’t say, ‘We don’t want to be the only team that didn’t take one. People called us and were begging to come but we didn’t think it was a fit because we had depth at that position.”
As for which positions those might have been Smart didn’t provide specifics. When looking at the roster, defensive back and wide receiver come to mind. The top safety to change teams this offseason was Brandon Joseph, who ended up at Notre Dame. As for the wide receiver position, USC was able to land Pitt transfer Jordan Addison. The Trojans also brought in Oklahoma wide receiver Mario Williams.
Georgia did sign a 30-man recruiting class, that included the late addition of Marcus Washington Jr., who reclassified from the 2023 recruiting cycle to join the 2022 class.
“We’re going to go with what we got as opposed to taking someone who is not a fit,” Smart said. “Those positions are so important and so critical to fit because if they come in and don’t fit you’re in a precious situation where you could destroy your team chemistry.”
Above all, Smart wants elite players on his team. If those players are available in the transfer portal, Smart won’t hesitate to take them. Last year saw Georgia bring in three players via the transfer portal.
But only cornerback Derion Kendrick proved to be a contributor on the 2021 championship team. Arik Gilbert and Tykee Smith combined to play just one game for the Bulldogs last season. Both will hope to make a bigger impact in 2022, as both are back for another season.
“When there is an elite player in the portal we want to be able to go get them if they can help us,” Smart said. “There’s no one position where we have to go have a guy here because we have it at all positions.”
As it stands, the Bulldogs would’ve had to do even more roster maneuvering in the event the Bulldogs added a player via the transfer portal. Per the unofficial DawgNation count, Georgia is at 87 scholarship players for the 2022 season, just over the 85-man limit. Georgia though can very easily get creative with its accounting to get under the 85-man max.
Georgia will open the 2022 season against Oregon, a team that took in a number of transfers under new head coach Dan Lanning. The most high-profile being former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix.
Kirby Smart on the transfer portal