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How Georgia football might use transfer portal to help 2021 team
Kirby Smart has made himself very clear as to how he likes to use the transfer portal.
You won’t see him using it to land multi-year players like Dan Mullen or Geoff Collins have done. There’s certainly value in landing Arik Gilbert or Kenyatta Watson II as transfers, but Smart would prefer to win those recruiting battles out of high school.
Smart is not going to use it to supplant some misses in a single recruiting class, like how Penn State or Oklahoma have used it in this past recruiting cycle. Smart is always going to want to sign as full a recruiting class as he can.
Smart was asked prior to the Peach Bowl about his feelings on the transfer portal and how he wants to use it to help Georgia.
“It’s a need base for us,” Smart said. “If I had my preference, I would rather not use the portal because schools like Cincinnati and Georgia shouldn’t have to, you should be able to go out and recruit the right kind of guys.”
Related: How latest roster movement impacts Georgia’s ability to add to 2021 team
Georgia has its needs for the 2021 team. And we know the Bulldogs have room to add to the roster, as the unofficial scholarship count puts Georgia at 83 for the fall. So who might Georgia try and add? If you look at recent transfer portal additions, we have some clues as to the type of player Smart and the Bulldogs might target.
What are the Georgia football needs for 2021 team?
The most obvious hole on the Georgia roster right now is at cornerback. After the departures of Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, DJ Daniel and Tyrique Stevenson. Georgia has a grand total of zero career starts at the cornerback position on the 2021 team.
The Bulldogs have recruited well in recent seasons at the position, signing Kelee Ringo, Jalen Kimber and Nyland Green. Those three will all be on campus this spring, going through drills and competing for a starting spot in the secondary.
Smart has stressed development in the secondary and the Bulldogs really need those three to develop. Especially with a game against Clemson to open the 2021 season.
“It’s a position that needs to be developed, we have some guys that we’ve been developing that need to step up and play,” Kirby Smart said on National Signing Day. ” We’ve also got some young guys that we’ve signed that we just talked about that will have to grow quickly and will get an opportunity to compete for positions.”
Related: Georgia football needs a strong offseason from Kelee Ringo
If there is another spot where Georgia wants to add, the Bulldogs could use another speedy receiver. Redshirt freshman Arian Smith seems primed to fill this role for Georgia next season. But the Bulldogs don’t have anyone else with his speed on the roster and Smith did have surgeries on his wrist and knee in his freshman season.
Georgia made a hard push to add wide receiver Jimmy Horn in the 2021 recruiting class. Horn ended up signing with South Florida, but Georgia seemed to telegraph that it wants to get faster at the wide receiver position. At the very least, help put less of a burden on Smith.
So what type of players has Georgia taken from the transfer portal in the past?
Since the transfer portal came to life in October of 2018, the Bulldogs have landed five players from the portal. All five of them came from Power 5 programs. You can go back even further to Georgia adding Demetris Robertson and Jay Hayes prior to the 2018 season. Georgia has targeted players that have experience at a big-time level.
Of those seven players, five of them had just a single year of eligibility in Jamie Newman, Tre’ McKitty, Lawrence Cager, Eli Wolf and Hayes. Smart and Georgia don’t just want players who have played at a high level, the transfers they’ve landed tend to be at Georgia for just a season.
With a position like cornerback, it makes sense for Georgia to try and target a graduate transfer player. Someone who can help fill the need for one season, while the younger players on the roster can continue to develop and have a path to long-term playing time.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been exceptions. Georgia landed quarterback JT Daniels last May, after already bringing in Newman in January. Georgia knew quarterback wasn’t just a short-term need but also a long-term one. With Daniels’ performance at the end of the 2020 season, that addition proved to be a wise one.