MEMPHIS, Tenn. – An animated Kirby Smart was happy to win the Liberty Bowl, but acknowledged that he hopes for still better days.
“Eight and five is better than 7-6. But neither one is where we want to be,” Smart said after his team beat TCU on Friday, 31-23. “And we now that, and we acknowledge that.”
Georgia does have a “large portion” of its team coming back, including the three players on the podium with Smart: Tailbacks Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, and defensive tackle Trent Thompson.
Smart said he would hit the recruiting trail over the next month but also emphasized that it was also about developing players.
Georgia enters the recruiting home stretch with 20 commitments, and the class currently ranks third in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite.
“Look, Georgia’s been successful. We just want to take it another step,” Smart said. “And we can do that through recruiting and getting kids to buy in, and playing well. What you can’t do is say we’re going to have a great recruiting class and (winning) is just going to magically happen. That’s not the case. There’s not a lot of difference in these recruiting classes, and the ones coming back, they’re going to be 90 percent of your team. So these are the guys right here that have to work hard, be leaders, be mentor, for the younger players on our team.”
Smart also offered up praise for the players on this year’s team.
“They do not quit, people,” Smart said of his team. “They keep working, working and working and don’t stop. They don’t look at the scoreboard … and that turned out well for them today.”