The SEC had a record 15 players taken in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Four SEC schools had multiple players taken in the first round. The rest of the country had just four combined.
Georgia was one of those four SEC schools as Andrew Thomas was the No. 4 overall player taken by the New York Giants and Isaiah Wilson went with the No. 29 pick to the Tennessee Titans.
Schools will often use their NFL success as a recruiting pitch and it tends to be an effective one. Georgia is no different, as the graphics team this week even sent out edits of players having their named called in a future NFL draft.
— David Daniel (@David_X_Dope) April 23, 2020
Georgia is one of the top recruiting powers in the nation with Kirby Smart at the helm. The Bulldogs have signed four consecutive top-three recruiting classes and are the only school in the country that can claim that. Smart and the Bulldogs also signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country this past cycle.
So while Smart was making his media rounds to celebrate the Georgia program, ESPN’s Paul Finebaum asked him about recruiting.
And Smart came off the top rope to call out some of the schools out there that are trying to use the SEC’s dominance against them on the recruiting trail.
“You probably would believe it but you wouldn’t believe what some coaches outside our conference tell kids,” Smart said. “They’ll sell to a kid that it’s better to not go to the SEC because it’s too tough.”
“It’s too competitive, too physical, you might get banged up, you might not have the career there you’d have somewhere else.”
The SEC has long been regarded as the top conference in college football, and its NFL success only continues to validate it. Yes, the conference has a reputation of being a more physical brand of football, but that is clearly something the NFL likes, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
And Smart used last night’s draft as another reason why that negative recruiting tactic is malarkey
“That’s not the way the NFL kids are looking at it and that’s not the way the coaches are looking at it,” Smart said. “They want to take kids that compete at the highest level. That play in those big-time matchups. And that’s what the kids want. they want to go play in the biggest games in the biggest places.
“So for a coach in another conference to sell that it might be a little bit easier path to come over here and go this way, it just speaks volumes. You want kids to see through that.”
"Some coaches outside of our conference tell [recruits] that it's better to not go to the SEC because it's too tough, too competitive, and you might not have as good of a career there."
– Kirby Smart just now on our show … which coaches/schools is he talking about? 🤔
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) April 24, 2020
As for which school Smart could be talking about, there’s only a few that really could come to mind. Given Georgia recruits at such an elite level, the only non-SEC teams that Georgia routinely bumps up against for big-time prospects are Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma.
Though if we could read between the lines just the smallest amount, it seems like this something that could be directed at Clemson, given how poor the ACC has been in recent seasons. Clemson also has a strong recent draft record, putting multiple players in the first round of each of the past two NFL drafts.
Clemson is also one of the closest geographic rivals to Georgia and the two schools frequently go head-to-head on the recruiting trail. Clemson pulled 5-star defensive end Myles Murphy out of the Atlanta area in the 2020 cycle and landed a recent commitment from 4-star cornerback Jordan Hancock as well.
Of course, these two teams will get a chance to settle it on the field in the coming years, as Georgia and Clemson are set to open the 2021 season against each other. That game is set to be in Charlotte, but the two sides have multiple future games against each other.
At the moment, Georgia has the No. 7 recruiting class in the 2021 cycle, while Clemson has the No. 4 class in the 2021 rankings. The Tigers lost a commitment from the nation’s No. 1 player this week in Korey Foreman. Georgia is one of the schools he is considering as well.
The 2020 NFL Draft continues on Friday with the second and third rounds. Georgia and Clemson both figure to be well-represented.
More Georgia football stories from the 2020 NFL Draft
- Arkansas shares awesome video of Sam Pittman celebrating Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson selections
- Rodrigo Blankenship: What to know about the 2020 NFL Draft prospect
- J.R. Reed: What to know about the 2020 NFL Draft prospect
- Social media strongly questions D’Andre Swift snub from first round of 2020 NFL Draft
- Tennessee Titans select Isaiah Wilson in first round of 2020 NFL Draft
- New York Giants select Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 pick in 2020 NFL Draft
- What social media is saying about Andrew Thomas being the top offensive tackle in 2020 NFL Draft