(1) Georgia
45
Final
0
Georgia Tech
Kirby Smart-Georgia football-transfer portal-recruiting
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during a press conference at the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

As transfer portal interest heats up, Kirby Smart doubles down on recruiting philosophy

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Georgia football Kirby Smart pushes back on usage of transfer portal

ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart made an insightful comment about Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets haven’t suddenly become a better team as they stare another 3-win season in the face, but Smart has seen the talent improve at Georgia Tech under Geoff Collins.

And he points to the transfer portal as the biggest reason why.

“They’ve stacked some good players that’ve come back to the city of Atlanta,” Smart said at his press conference on Monday. “When you look across the board, a lot of kids on that team that went to go play somewhere else that all of us recruited, have come back.”

“Related: Kirby Smart lifts Georgia to new heights amid high-stakes college football environment

As the college football season comes to a close, the transfer portal figures to once again heat up. It’s become a new way to improve your roster quickly, as Michigan State displayed this season.

It allows for quick fixes, especially at programs with coaching changes. As USC, LSU and Florida all hit the coaching market, you can imagine they’ll be active in the transfer portal as well, given the impact those firings have on the current roster and the respective recruiting cycle.

You’ll also see some big-name players throw their names into the portal as well. Alabama landed Jameson Williams from Ohio State and he’s since blossomed into the leading receiver for the Crimson Tide. Derion Kendrick was dismissed from Clemson, but the transfer portal led him to Georgia where he has since emerged as a star cornerback for the Bulldogs.

One such player made the move on Monday as Eli Ricks entered the transfer portal. The former 5-star cornerback and freshman All-American figures to get a ton of attention, even with missing half the season due to a torn labrum.

Turnage though never made it to Georgia and ended up at Tennessee. Gilbert has been away from the team since the second week of practice and Smith suffered foot and knee injuries this year, playing in just one game this season. Kendrick has proven to be the only reliable contributor of the bunch so far for Georgia.

Smart does understand that some of the pratfalls of building through recruiting means that it can take longer for players to see the field, which then can make it difficult to keep some of those talented recruits.

It really puts an onus on the older players in your program to keep the younger ones engaged.

“I think the culture within your program is so important that the older players embrace the younger players and grow them up so that they become leaders,” Smart said. “If you rely on the transfer portal, you’re not always going to have the built-in culture and belief of your organization because guys will be in it for the first time that year.”

Perhaps no one embodies that idea more than senior Channing Tindall. AHe’s blossomed into a multi-positional monster on the Georgia defense this year. In the absence of Adam Anderson, he’s gotten a great chance to better display his pass-rushing ability. He’s got 3.5 sacks in the last two games and will likely add to that against Georgia Tech.