MACON — The biggest applause Kirby Smart got during his 7½-minute speech to a couple of hundred Georgia fans on Monday was when he said that every player slated to return for the Bulldogs had retained their academic eligibility.
Smart had said essentially the same thing backstage earlier with regard to the 10 signees in the Class of 2019 that have yet to report to campus. Specifically, there has been a lot of concern and chatter about 5-star wide receiver George Pickens. But while the Georgia coach didn’t address Pickens specifically, he did say he expected all who signed to show up and be eligible when they arrive this summer. Most are expected to arrive at the end of this month and enroll for summer semester, which begins in early June.
“We’ve got full expectations that everybody will be there in the summer to practice, to compete,” Smart said. “All of those guys are finishing up, right now they’re in their finals depending on what state they’re in or where they are. I know they’re looking forward to getting into our place and start working.”
As for the returning players, Smart acknowledged that the Bulldogs were sweating out the spring semester grades of a more than a few. But, again, he said, there were no academic casualties.
“And that’s an accomplishment,” Smart said as applause nearly drowned out his remarks. “As everybody in this room knows, academically at Georgia, it’s an unbelievable place. It’s unbelievably competitive. When you look at the average student coming in with a 32 ACT, a 1,300 SAT, a 4.1 GPA, you know when you walk into the classroom you’ve got to be at the top of your game. And that goes for our players, too.”