ATHENS — Kirby Smart has grown accustomed to seeing former Georgia players across the sideline from him, and that will happen again on Saturday.
Jermaine Burton leads Alabama with 749 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns on 33 catches, and then linebacker Trezman Marshall is a part-time starter seventh on the team with 50 tackles
Both players started their careers with the Bulldogs, who they will now line up against at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Smart, who at one point saw 11 former UGA players starting for other FBS schools this season, including at four SEC schools, says there is no ill-will.
“The guys that helped us win games, whether it was last year, two years ago, three years ago, they’re somewhere else, I want them to do well,” Smart said on Sunday night.
“They were part of building something. If they were part of that, then more power to them. When we play against ‘em, we’re going to do all we can to make sure we come out on top.”
Burton was part of the Georgia team that beat Alabama 33-18 in the CFP Championship Game the last time the teams met, making 2 catches for 28 yards in a title game that saw only 17 completed passes.
“He’s been very productive for us,” Tide coach Nick Saban said when asked about Burton.
“We thought he was a good player when we played against him, so that was probably the reason for our interest in him to start with, and he hasn’t disappointed us with his performance on the field.”
Marshall had a TFL and QB hurry in last year’s UGA CFP title game over TCU and saw action in 14 of 15 games, making 19 tackles.
Smart, who has seen five of his Georgia assistants leave and become head coaches, said it’s part of the business.
“It’s not a personal thing by any means, it’s the nature of the beast,” Smart said. “The NFL, that happens all the time, right? Do we get traded? People have free agency in college, they make choices and decisions that fit what they need to do or what they think they need to do for their career.
“We don’t look at it as a negative. We had two guys last week that we played against that were here and did great things for us.”
Indeed, Smart saw former UGA players Dominick Blaylock and Brett Seither suit up for Georgia Tech in last week’s 31-23 win, with Seither making a 28-yard reception.
The Bulldogs could end up seeing more familiar faces in the CFP, with former defensive coordinator leading No. 5 Oregon and former receiver Adonai Mitchell helping Texas.
Former Georgia players on rosters:
*Full or part-time starters
WR Jermaine Burton, Alabama*
LB Trezman Marshall, Alabama
WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas*
DL Bear Alexander, USC*
SS Major Burns, LSU*
WR Dominick Blaylock, Georgia Tech*
DL Bill Norton, Arizona*
LB M.J. Sherman, Nebraska*
QB. J.T. Daniels, Rice*
WR Jaylen Johnson, East Carolina*
CB Jalen Kimber, Florida*
TE Rylan Goede, Mississippi State*
OL Clay Webb, Jacksonville State*
WR Justin Robinson, Mississippi State*
LB Rian Davis, UCF*
TE Brett Seither, Georgia Tech*
CB Jaheim Singletary, Arkansas*
OL Griffin Scroggs, Appalachian State
OL Cameron Kinnie, UCF
DT Tymon Mitchell, TCU
OL Jacob Hood, Nebraska
CB Marcus Washington, Louisville