ATHENS — Kirby Smart may have had Georgia’s opening game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in mind when he likened the fast-food giant’s efficiency to the Bulldogs’ recruiting.
Or maybe Smart was just craving a Chick-fil-A biscuit or sandwich.
Whatever it was, Smart’s reverence for the Atlanta-based company was clear during a recent ESPN podcast interview.
“We talk about it all the time, we talk about Chick-fil-A service, you better be Chick-fil-A in recruiting,” Smart said.
“You better get people through the line, you better do it fast, you better make sure they get their questions answered,” he said. “We leave no stone unturned in our recruiting. That’s the No. 1 thing you have to do.”
ESPN college football analyst and SEC Network host Paul Finebaum told DawgNation Smart stands above all other coaches in recruiting.
“I think he is arguably the best recruiter in the country, and I know there are some other people out there, but I would take him in a living room over anyone else in America,” Finebaum said. “I think that can be backed up by what Georgia has done over the last few years.”
The Bulldogs recruiting classes have ranked No. 1 (2020), No. 2 (2019) and No. 1 (2018) per the 247Sports composite rankings.
Smart said he believes his background plays a large role.
“Recruiting is being able to have relationships and relate to kids,” Smart said. “I’ve always thought the background I had being a high school coach’s son, having grown up in a locker room, (having) been around players, a lot of diverse background from where I’m from in South Georgia, that always helps.”
Smart played his high school football in Bainbridge, Ga., and was recruited to play for the Bulldogs by another former UGA star, then-head coach Ray Goff.
Smart, who went on to an All-SEC career at UGA from 1995-1998, believes his Peach State roots contribute to his success.
“It also helps being from the state of Georgia, which we know is a really fertile area,” Smart said. “And then, you know, having the commitment of the organization to show people what they want to see.
“We put a lot of work into recruiting. That’s from our president all the way down to everybody on our staff.”
Georgia spent $3.7 million on recruiting in 2019 — more than any other program, per the USA Today.
The Bulldogs have invested heavily in facilities since Smart took over as head coach before the 2016 season, as well.
A review of UGA finances revealed $173 million has been spent on football-related facilities in the past four years, including the ongoing construction of an $80 million football building.
Smart makes no bones about it, Georgia recognizes the need to do whatever it can to attain the most talent.
“If you start out the day with lesser players than the players you’re playing against, then you’re not going to come out ahead a lot of times,” Smart said.
“It’s tough in the world of the SEC,” Smart said. “I guarantee if you polled every SEC coach and asked the toughest thing about their job, there is no doubt it’s the amount of time that you have to commit to recruiting.”
Efficiency, no doubt, is at a premium.
Georgia is scheduled to open the season against Virginia on Monday, Sept. 7, in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
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