ATHENS — Top recruits are coming to Georgia to win championships, but also to get on the field early.

Coach Kirby Smart explained the Bulldogs motto of “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” during a recent media appearance in Birmingham.

“It’s a mistake to say they wait their turn,” Smart said on the Rick and Bubba radio show. “I don’t believe in waiting your turn; we had a lot of guys play in that national championship game, and they had a role, they were third down.”

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Georgia is the only program in the four-team CFP era to win back-to-back titles, topping Alabama 33-18 following the 2021 season and hammering TCU 65-7 last season.

Georgia brought in the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in 2023 and currently ranks No. 1 with its list of 2024 commits.

And, while not every incoming freshman will play, Smart shared there’s a strategy for each player.

“We show them the proof, that Quay Walker was a second-year player that played on special teams, his third year he started, and his fourth year he started and he got picked in the first round,” Smart said of the Green Bay packers first-round linebacker pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.

“There’s a recipe for success, it’s not (always) instant success. No NFL evaluator has ever come to me and said, ‘Did he play as a freshman? How many snaps did he play as a freshman?” Smart pointed out.

“You don’t make it to the NFL by starting as a freshman. You make it to the NFL by the grind of Year One, Year Two and Year Three and then becoming a viable candidate and getting better.”

The Bulldogs lead the nation with four 5-star commits in the 2024 class, with Smart going after recruits who are as bought in as the are talented.

“The ones you pick are critical,” Smart said. “When you go pick who you pick out of the strawberry patch, you’re trying to get the one that fits you. You might like one a little smaller, you might like one little riper … I’m trying to get the ones that are going to stay.

“We’re not perfect at all, that goes into the culture of what you bring in to your nest.”

Smart said the championship seasons don’t necessarily make things easier, because the lure of NIL money can and has influenced prospects.

“What used to be the sell of development and the trophies and winning, all of this NFL (future), it becomes what can you make?” Smart said. “They want NIL up front, and that becomes a primary thing for a lot of kids.

“When we get to that point, to be honest we need to find someone else as good as that player.”

Georgia has had more players drafted over the past three years (34) than any program, and many prospects recognize that the NFL contracts are much larger and more significant than NIL dealings.

Still, Smart said, UGA is permitted by NCAA rule to share how past Bulldogs’ players have found success with NIL deals.

“You’re able to sell what other players have done,” Smart said. “Whether it’s a Brock Bowers, a Darnell Washington a Stetson Bennett, they have all had success with NIL.

“They (prospects) want to know what your other players are making, and that part is frustrating. You can’t make it about that, because when you make it about that, you’re going to be closer to the portal, for sure.”