ATHENS – I had somebody ask me a hilarious question the other day. He said, “Do you think Georgia has overtaken Alabama in recruiting?”
I didn’t mean to, but I’m pretty sure I blurted out a laugh. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. I’m as impressed as anybody about the job Kirby Smart and his staff have done in a short time at Georgia. But overtaken Alabama? I’m sorry. Not quite.
It’ll take more than a couple of impressive classes in back-to-back years to run down the mighty Crimson Tide in recruiting. Granted, Georgia edged them – if there’s really such a thing – based on the metrics that are used to rank recruiting classes when Class of 2018 recruiting wrapped up in February. The Bulldogs, as has been well-documented here, finished first in the nation, while Bama came in a distant seventh, per 247Sports composite rankings.
But as always is the case in recruiting, it’s hard to make an apple-to-apple comparison. For instance, the Tide signed only 19 players overall, to Georgia’s 26. That’s seven additional players the Bulldogs had to pull rankings points from. So did the Bulldogs really out-recruit the Crimson Tide, or did they just have more opportunities to offer?
Now certainly, Georgia beat Bama head-to-head on a few of those guys, and that’s commendable. But on how many others did they compete? I’m sure there is somebody who can answer that – maybe our own Jeff Sentell. But I suspect the Tide didn’t lose out on every player both they and Georgia wanted.
And while the Bulldogs are certainly doing well in the here and now – they finished third in the 2017 rankings and are currently second behind Miami in the 2019 rankings – they have a long way to go to approach what Alabama has done under Nick Saban.
Wrap your head around this stat for a second: The Crimson Tide finished No. 1 in the nation in recruiting seven straight years from 2011 to 2017. That’s right, when Georgia was third last year, Bama was first.
And lest we forget, it was Alabama that won the competition that mattered. I hate to bring up that excruciating overtime loss to the Tide in the National Championship Game, but the winning play came on a pass from the freshman quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa) to a freshman receiver (DeVonta Smith). Before that, key plays were made by freshmen Najee Harris, Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy.
Tagovailoa, by the way, was subbing for a sophomore in Jalen Hurts, and they’re both back for 2018. So Bama’s not about to blow away like the hot dog wrappers from the last game.
Smart and his staff certainly are to be commended for what they’ve done. And as you’ve seen and heard from the Bulldogs’ third-year coach, he intends to keep it up. There’s not a coach or staff anywhere in the SEC that’s out-working Smart and his guys, and that includes Saban and his guys.
But if Georgia’s going to “overtake” Bama in recruiting, the Bulldogs are going to have to overtake the Tid on the field a couple of times at least. And then it might still be difficult to out-recruit them. After all, the Bulldogs in the next few years aren’t going to be able to add 17 national championship trophies to their case, or whatever number it is the Tide claims.
Georgia has plenty to offer in its own right. More to offer, if you ask me. Better education, more opportunities for in-state kids. Athens versus Tuscaloosa is not even close.
As for the here and now, the Bulldogs have a way to go. They’re still the chaser. Suffice it to say, if they keep it up, they’ll be able to compete with anybody. Winning on the field will assure that more than anything.