ATHENS — The Georgia football program is spinning around Kirby Smart with the possibility of coaches and players coming or going.
The Bulldogs’ head coach, fresh off his fourth regular season, remains calm in the center of it all.
Smart, master of time management, has his to-do list in order and seems to be taking the approach the chips will fall where they may in the aftermath of an 11-2 season that has his program ranked No. 5 and headed for the Sugar Bowl to play Baylor.
Smart calmly addressed Sunday reports that celebrated offensive line coach Sam Pittman could be headed for Arkansas as the Razorbacks head coach when asked by DawgNation on the Sunday night Sugar Bowl teleconference.
“You always hear rumors flying around and different things, and you don’t know what to be true and what’s not,” Smart said. “Right now, we’re focused on the Sugar Bowl and getting ready for it.”
A source at Arkansas told DawgNation on Sunday night that Arkansas has had several candidates fall through, and that Pittman is indeed in play.
Smart said he doesn’t have a clear idea of which players will be traveling to New Orleans to play the No. 7-ranked Bears in the 8:45 p.m. game on Jan. 1 at the Mercedes-Benz Dome.
Smart confirmed that receiver Dominick Blaylock (ACL) is out for the season.
Smart also said it’s “very doubtful” that grad-transfer Lawrence Cager will be healed up from the ankle surgery he underwent on Nov. 29.
The other Georgia players who were knocked out of the SEC Championship Game are expected to be back, Smart said.
The Bulldogs have a handful of underclassmen, however, who could be leaving early for the NFL draft and may elect not to play in the game.
“That’s obviously a fluid situation, I think we’ll find out more as it comes about,” Smart said. “Guys really haven’t had time to sit back and evaluate where they are and get information. We really only had one last year, and that was Deandre Baker.
“(So) I don’t know where that will fall, and I’m really not concerned with that right now as much as I am finishing up final exams, and finishing up recruiting, and then getting started on Baylor.”
Junior tailback D’Andre Swift is not expected to play in the Sugar Bowl, while offensive tackle Andrew Thomas has left the possibility open.
Junior quarterback Jake Fromm and junior safety Richard LeCounte are other underclassmen who could be considering declaring early for the NFL draft.
But, as Smart suggested, players are still in the process of getting NFL draft grades to help them make better-informed decisions.
“What I found out last year was that for a lot of kids, it was the most important game of their season and meant so much to them, and then maybe for some others it didn’t,” Smart said.
“You’ve got to take the guys that are engaged and excited about playing, because that matters a whole lot more than how good they are.”
Kirby Smart has created enormous expectations when fans are irate over a Top 5 regular season that included 3 wins over Top 15 competition … https://t.co/JebPNvjv3i
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) December 8, 2019
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