Kirby Smart on Justin Fields situation: ‘No regrets. I would go recruit the best player (again)’
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Kirby Smart gives candid take on Justin Fields, transfer portal
Kirby Smart has made his feelings on the transfer portal pretty clear to this point. He’s not a fan of it and he’s said that it isn’t what’s best for the players or the game of college football.
Smart has reiterated that point again and again over the course of the past seven months since it came into existence. No school has had perhaps a more high-profile situation than Georgia when freshman quarterback Justin Fields entered the transfer portal following Georgia’s loss in the SEC championship game.
Fields was the No. 2 overall player in the 2019 recruiting cycle. But while Fields flashed some of his incredible talents as a freshman, he was never able to beat Jake Fromm for the starting spot. Fields announced that he would be transferring to Ohio State in early January and was granted a waiver shortly after to play during the 2019 season.
When Smart was asked about the Fields situation in a Dennis Dodd piece for CBSSports.com, Smart offered up a blunt assessment of how the Fields situation transpired and if he would change anything.
“No regrets,” Smart told Dodd. “I would go recruit the best player [again].”
These remarks do seem to line up with Smart’s recruiting philosophy. In his time at Georgia, he’s signed elite players at multiple positions in multiple recruiting classes. It’s why the Bulldogs have landed back-to-back-to-back top three recruiting classes. Georgia is the only school that can say that over the past three years.
But unlike linebacker or on the offensive line, only one quarterback can play at a time. Which is a part of the reason Fields ended up transferring.
Dodd also spoke with Ohio State coach Ryan Day. The first year Ohio State head coach provided some details on landing Fields as a transfer through the portal.
“We want to recruit and develop guys. However, the portal has kind of changed things,” Day said. “We thought Justin [Fields] was a fit for a lot of reasons.
“When Dwayne Haskins leaves as a sophomore, we think he has three years left, and he comes for one and throws 50 TD passes. We kind of had to figure all that out in short order. When Justin became available, it made sense.”
Smart spoke with Dodd as part of a deeper dive into the transfer portal. The Georgia coach gave some more nuanced takes on why the portal has become such a popular option for players and why it’s a problem.
“[The transfer issue is], ‘Where are you going to go to get developed the best?’ But that’s not the society we live in. We live in the, ‘Me, now, I want mine now. I want to go play right now.'”
Fields wasn’t the only Georgia player to enter the transfer portal this offseason, as four other Bulldogs have put their names in. Tight end Luke Ford ended up at Illinois and defensive back Deangelo Gibbs is at Tennessee. Defensive back Tray Bishop and linebacker Jaden Hunter have also put their names in but have not found new homes yet.
The transfer portal doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, as it continues to be an option for players to explore other opportunities. Georgia has benefitted from transfers under Smart, as the Bulldogs have brought in the likes of JR Reed and Demetris Robertson. In this offseason alone Georgia has landed two graduate transfer players in Lawrence Cager and Eli Wolf.
And Smart does seem to be for the idea of pursuing your options once you’ve graduated. In speaking with Dodd he again reiterated that his biggest issue with the portal system is a player wanting to leave because things don’t go well from the beginning.
“My biggest problem with the portal is that it gives kids an easy way out,” Smart said. “I know the devil’s advocate of players’ rights and they should be able to go wherever they want to go. But I’m telling you, no normal parent would say, ‘At the first sign of trouble, I want my son to run.'”
Emerson Hancock a semi-finalist for college baseball’s top award
Sophomore pitcher Emerson Hancock has had a sensational season for the Bulldogs. He’s posted a 7-2 record with a stunning 1.31 ERA. That’s to go along with the country’s best mark in WHIP (Walks Plus Hits Per Innings Pitched) and fewest hits allowed per 9 innings. He’s a big reason Georgia is the No. 7 team in the country and poised to be a top seed in the NCAA tournament with a 39-14 record and 18-9 mark in SEC play.
Hancock was recognized for his efforts on Wednesday when he was named a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. The award annually goes to the top amateur baseball player in the country and recent winners include Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Kris Bryant and Buster Posey.
— Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) May 15, 2019
Hancock is the fourth Bulldog to be named a semi-finalist for the award. The school has only had one finalist for the award, which was Gordon Beckham back in 2008. That season Georgia made it all the way to the College World Series final.
Georgia will wrap up its regular season slate this week as the Bulldogs host Alabama. The series begins on Thursday, with first pitch set for 7:00 p.m. Hancock will pitch on Saturday, which is the final game of the series.
The SEC tournament begins next week in Hoover, Ala. Georgia can still clinch the regular season title, as it enters the weekend just two games back of first place Vanderbilt.
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