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Kirby Smart is entering his fifth season as Georgia's head coach.

Georgia football recruiting still moving at its usual pace, even in sped up 2021 recruiting cycle

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Even as the rest of college football speeds up its recruiting, Georgia football still taking its time

Prospects in the 2021 recruiting cycle are committing sooner than ever. Thanks to the research by Bud Elliott of 247Sports, as of May 30, a total of 913 prospects were publicly committed to schools for the 2021 cycle.

On that date a year ago, only 390 prospects were committed for the 2020 recruiting class.

Kirby Smart long expected that due to the changes of the recruiting calendar and the inability for prospects to take visits, kids were going to commit sooner. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the NCAA has mandated a dead period to run through at least July 31, meaning that prospects can only communicate with coaches electronically.

No visits and a lot of phone calls. This leads to prospects getting tired of the recruiting process sooner, which is why the number of commits are way up.

“There’s no magic potion. There’s nobody doing something magically that everybody else isn’t doing,” Smart said in a Zoom call with reporters last week. “‘We’re jumping on Zoom. We’re communicating with parents, coaches, recruits—we’re doing everything virtually, and that’s really the best we can do.”

Related: Georgia football: Kirby Smart’s comments on the 2021 recruiting cycle laced with empathy, uncertainty

The teams at the top of the recruiting rankings also reflect this uptick in commitments. The No. 1 team in the cycle is Ohio State, with 19 commitments. The Buckeyes also have the highest average recruit ranking in the country, with a value of 95.34. So they’re matching quantity with quality.

The same cannot be said though for some of the other teams occupying the top-10. The Tennessee Volunteers have the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, but an average recruit ranking of 89.73. Only Minnesota and Michigan have lower average recruit ranking among teams in the top-10.

And no team in the country has more commitments than Tennessee’s 24. The only other school with at least 20 is Rutgers

As of June 3, the teams in the top-10 had an average of 16.2 recruits.

“It’s probably created a bigger burden on our recruits, and if I was a recruit or a recruit’s parent, I would be more concerned with that volume of virtual usage and phone usage, and it’s probably led to more kids committing because you can make the case that they’re committing because they can’t go anywhere,” Smart said.

Georgia has just nine public commitments at this point. But with the rest of the college football landscape filling up their classes faster, Smart and company are marching along at their usual pace, or just barely a tick above it.

Excluding the 2016 class which Smart only had a few weeks to put together, Georgia has held an average of 8.4 commitments as of June 3. So Georgia is doing ever so slightly better in terms of earning commitments in this cycle than they have in the past, even being in a stranger recruiting time.

The Bulldogs have seven fewer commits than the average top-10 team, yet only Ohio State and Clemson (94.55) have a higher-average recruit ranking than Georgia’s 94.05.

The most the Bulldogs have ever had as of this date was actually the previous recruiting cycle, when the Bulldogs held 11 commitments.

The fewest Georgia has had at this point in time was four commitments, which came back in the 2018 class. Both that one and the 2020 class went on to finish No. 1 overall. The Bulldogs have no problem sitting back and waiting before closing strong.

If coffee is for closers, Smart swims in it when it comes to recruiting.

Last cycle, the Bulldogs picked up 10 players would go on to be signees after the SEC championship game, which was played on Dec. 7. In 2018 the Bulldogs brought in seven signees after the SEC championship game. And in 2017, when Georgia beat Auburn to win SEC championship, the Bulldogs picked up 11 eventual signees after the SEC championship game.

Part of the reason for the slower moving — at least compared to the rest of college football — recruiting class is because Smart and his staff want to see how guys play on their senior tape. Sure some guys are already known entities by that point, but there are others who really bloom during that final season of college football.

But Georgia didn’t get any of those evaluation days in April or May that usually exist. And it’s still not known if those will get made up come the fall. The NCAA could make more tweaks to the recruiting calendar, such as allowing official visits in August or more evaluation days during the season.

You’re also less likely to see a string of late de-commitments if you have a smaller class size at that point in the season. Given coaching turnover, it’s only natural to see some late de-commits.

Related: Georgia football: Bulldogs distancing from de-commitment trend

In each of the past four recruiting cycles for Georgia, at least two players in each class who were committed on June 3, ended up signing somewhere else.

With all those prospects already committed, and none of them allowed to take visits, it’s likely that we see a string of de-commitments. If visits are allowed, we’ll then get a very clear idea of how committed some of these schools and prospects really are.

Either way, Georgia will be well adjusted for whatever comes in the recruiting calendar. It has shown in the past it knows how to close for a number of the best prospects in the country. And with many of its top targets still out there, the Bulldogs have plenty of opportunities to once again put together an elite class.

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