ATHENS — Georgia added a not-so-secret weapon when Missouri receiver Dominic Lovett landed with the Bulldogs’ via the NCAA transfer portal.

It has been an immediate and good fit this spring, no doubt, because of Lovett’s tough-minded attitude and elite talents.

“I’ve always been coached by hard-nosed coaches.” said Lovett, who led the Tigers last season with 56 catches for 846 yards. “Kirby (Smart) is another hard-nosed coach.”

Lovett will need to come up big if Smart, entering his eighth year leading the program, is to lead the Bulldogs to what would be a historic repeat not seen before in the modern era of college football.

The Georgia offense is in the midst of a massive overhaul having lost uniquely skilled players Darnell Washington and Kenny McIntosh, along with clutch receive Adonai Mitchell, both starting offensive tackles and sixth-year senior Stetson Bennett at quarterback.

Lovett, with his quick feet and reliable hands, figures to team up with Ladd McConkey to give Georgia two consistent downfield threats, while preseason All-American tight end Brock Bowers provides punch whenever and wherever he touches the ball.

The Bulldogs very nearly had Lovett when he was coming out of East St. Louis High school as a four-star receiver in 2021, but he canceled visits to Alabama and LSU on account of the COVID pandemic and ended up committing to Arizona State.

Things took another turn for Lovett when the Sun Devils pulled their offer just before the early signing day, leading him to settle on Missouri, which had wisely stuck with him throughout the entire recruiting process.

Three years later, Lovett found himself yearning for a bigger challenge and with championship aspirations.

“My main focus was I wanted to stay in the SEC …. because I felt that’s where the best competition is,” Lovett said in a Player’s Lounge video podcast with UGA teammate Warren Brinson.

“You are playing someone good every week that will make you better.”

Lovett shared how Georgia receivers coach Bryan McClendon flew down to meet with him and give him the rundown on what Smart’s program is all about.

“He kept it 100,” Lovett said. “He was like, ‘What are you looking for?’ I said I’m looking for someone to coach me hard and uphold me to a standard.

“I fell in love with how you (Georgia) practices, and how physically you practice.”

It had to be music to McClendon’s ears, and some elite recruits shrink away from the daily challenges at Georgia, more interested in easier paths to quicker playing time.

It made Lovett’s choice that much easier, as he chose the Bulldogs out of the portal over offers from Tennessee, Oregon, Memphis and Arizona.

“When I sat down with Coach Smart, he said ‘I can offer you the best coaches and best team to be on,” " Lovett recalled. “I won’t go up against anybody like (the Georgia defense) every week, and when all of us come together on game day, it will be so crazy.”

Lovett said he enjoyed his three years at Missouri, and the Tigers’ coaches helped develop him into a player worthy of being a part of Georgia’s elite championship team.

“I’ve never been a part of something like this, it’s really amazing how we connect on and off the field,” Lovett said of the closeness the Georgia players enjoy and often talk about.

“If you actually know your brothers next to you — and why you’re doing this, why you came here, why you’re staying out there — you’re just pushing and pushing. I feel like it’s different.”

Lovett has a chance to be one of the most productive and electric receivers of the Smart Era, especially with Georgia looking to take advantage of talented quarterbacks and seemingly on the verge of heavier downfield pass volume.