Kirby Smart is putting together the best first full recruiting class ever
While he might never say it publicly, Kirby Smart was brought to Georgia to be Nick Saban. And in his first full year as head coach, he’s on a similar track to Saban.
Neither coach had great on-the-field results in Year 1 — Smart went 8-5; Saban went 7-6 — but both put together stellar recruiting classes in their first full year.
Georgia legend Kevin Butler, who worked with Smart this year as an undergraduate assistant, attributed Smart’s ability to secure players from Georgia as a reason for a bright future.
“His focus on the state of Georgia has been very clear and I think that’s where the success is coming from,” Butler said. “I think the previous staff, they assumed they were going to lose players from the state so they just didn’t chase them. You can field a pretty good team from the state of Georgia.”
The last time former Bulldogs coach Mark Richt had a recruiting class finish in the top-3 of the national rankings was 2006. That class featured Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno.
We’ve compiled how all the current SEC coaches did in their first full recruiting classes, as well as a few other significant coaches. And Smart’s current class very well could top them all.
The gold standard
Urban Meyer, 2013 points/class rank: 303.27/2nd
Names to remember: 5-star S Vonn Bell, 4-star DE Joey Bosa, 4-star RB Ezekiel Elliott, 4-star CB Eli Apple
So Meyer and Smart aren’t apples to apples, as Meyer had proved he could win. But the 2013 class produced two top-5 five picks in Bosa and Elliott. It had another top-10 pick in Apple and included quarterback J.T. Barrett.
Ron Zook, 2003: 298.87/1st
Names to remember: 5-star WR Andre Caldwell, 5-star QB Chris Leak, 4-star S Reggie Nelson, 4-star DE Jarvis Moss
Bet you weren’t expecting to see this name near the top of the list. Despite Zook’s struggles at Florida, he’s the Gators’ only coach to grab the No. 1 ranking. Given the 2017 class rankings, it appears Smart won’t be able to pass Zook in the standings.
Jimbo Fisher, 2011 points ranking/class rank: 296.41/2nd
Names to remember: 4-star RB Devonta Freeman, 4-star WR Kelvin Benjamin, 5-star DT Timmy Jernigan, 3-star QB Jake Coker
So Fisher gets an asterisk of sorts since he was head coaching in-waiting before Bobby Bowden retired. But he hauled in a monster class that was full of contributors on the Seminoles’ 2013 national championship team.
Nick Saban, 2008 points ranking/class rank: 289.05/3rd
Names to remember: 5-star WR Julio Jones, 4-star DB Mark Barron, 4-star OL Barrett Jones, 4-star DE Marcell Dareus, 4-star RB Mark Ingram
Saban has a point when he calls this class the best. It produced five first-round NFL Draft picks, while the Notre Dame and Miami classes that ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, combined for one. The 2008 Alabama class won two national championships, one as sophomores and again as seniors.
Urban Meyer, 2006 points ranking/class rank 287.34/2nd
Names to remember: 5-star QB Tim Tebow, 5-star WR Percy Harvin, 4-star LB Brandon Spikes
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