Georgia football-Alabama-SEC-Transfer portal
11/30/2018 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart (left) and University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban (right) stand for a photo with the SEC Championship trophy during a press conference at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Friday, November 30, 2018. Georgia will play the University of Alabama in the 2018 SEC Championship game on Saturday (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Alabama addition of Henry To’o To’o should signal transfer portal change for Georgia football

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Georgia football transfer portal stance needs to change

Kirby Smart has made his stance on the transfer portal clear. It will be need-based and he would still prefer to see Georgia continue to use and develop high school recruits.

“If I had my preference,” Smart said prior to the Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati, “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.”

In that sense, Smart is conservative in his approach to the transfer portal. Those like Dan Mullen of Florida and Geoff Collins of Georgia Tech have more liberally used the transfer portal to add to their roster.

That though will probably change in the coming years. Sure, the NCAA amending its transfer rules plays a part in that, as the NCAA will no longer require players to sit out a year when transferring between schools.

But the far bigger change was signaled this weekend when Alabama landed Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o out of the transfer portal.

As the rule currently stands, To’o To’o would have to sit out next season at Alabama due to the SEC’s intraconference transfer rule.

This rule was waived last season, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey pointed to the unprecedented times of the pandemic. This is how former Georgia Bulldogs Cade Mays and Otis Reese were eligible to play for Tennessee and Ole Miss respectively last season.

With the NCAA changing its rules, a number of conferences have done away with their intraconference transfer rules. The ACC, Big 12 and American Athletic Conference have all opened up the transfer rules to mirror that of the NCAA.

Alabama bringing in To’o To’o provides some thinking that the SEC is likely about to do the same. According to a report from Aaron Suttles of The Athletic, SEC presidents are set to vote on overturning the league’s current rule on June 3.

So what does all this mean for Georgia? Well, if Alabama is taking in players from within the SEC, it will probably be time for Georgia to do the same.

Related: Georgia football might not be done with the transfer portal yet this offseason

The Bulldogs have already gone out and brought in one high-profile transfer addition this spring in West Virginia defensive back Tykee Smith. He’ll bring in some much-needed playmaking in the Georgia secondary, as well as the positional versatility Smart covets on defense.

Smith though likely doesn’t address Georgia’s biggest concerns at this point. Georgia likely won’t put Smith at cornerback, where Georgia has zero starting experience. The Bulldogs could also use a little bit more speed in the wide receiver room.

Per DawgNation’s unofficial count, the Bulldogs have room to add players to the 85-man count. Following Major Burns entering the transfer portal, Georgia sits at 82 scholarships. You can expect Smart and Georgia to do what they can to have a fully fleshed-out roster.

That now includes the transfer portal. And in short order might mean the possibility of bringing in players from within the SEC.

Twice in Smart’s tenure has he brought in a player from within the SEC. The first came back in 2016, when Smart brought Maurice Smith over from Alabama.

Smith went on to become Georgia’s defensive MVP that season. His ability to play within the SEC helped translate to making an immediate impact.