ATHENS — Kirby Smart took a break — physically, at least — from the Georgia football recruiting trail to take in the Bulldogs NCAA Tournament Baseball Super Regional finale against North Carolina State.

The Bulldogs are playing to fill the eighth and final slot at the College World Series, needing a win over North Carolina State to advance for what would be the first time since 2008 and continue their magical, Cinderella season.

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Smart, who signed the No. 1-ranked class in 2024 and is working on what’s currently the No. 6 class in 2025 (with early signing day far off in December, attends and supports other UGA programs but particularly baseball

Indeed, Smart actually had a hand in helping build the first Georgia baseball recruiting class signed by first-year coach Wes Johnson.

Johnson was still working as LSU pitching coach last summer when UGA No. 3 hitter and second baseman Slate Alford and No. 9 hitter and shortstop Kolby Branch were in Athens for a visit.

Alford and Branch have more home runs than any other UGA newcomers in the 28-man signing class, which includes 18 transfers and 10 freshman.

Smart stepped up with Johnson gone and helped the Bulldogs land Alford, a Mississippi State transfer, and Branch, a transfer from Baylor.

It’s hard to imagine the players not being impressed with Smart, and the commitment from Georgia it represented to have the nation’s most elite college football coach spending his valuable time with them.

The payoff has been significant, to say the least, as Branch has been key throughout the season with a program-record four grand slams, including the one that broke open an 11-2 Athens Regional win over UNC-Wilmington last week.

Alford, of course, helped spark the 11-2 Georgia win over North Carolina State on Sunday with a two-run home run.

That Bulldogs’ win led into Monday night’s decisive Game 3 at Foley Field (TV: ESPN), the winner headed to the College World Series in Omaha.