What type of effect will Kirby Smart have on the recruiting trail when he’s officially named the next coach at UGA? A good example has already surfaced with junior college cornerback Antonio Kanonu.
The 6-foot-1, 165-pounder graduates in December of 2016 and plans to enroll the following January. He’s not rated by the major services, but one database recently gave him a 5-star rating.
So how good can he be? Well, the fact Smart was his lead recruiter at Alabama says something. So does his 4.43 speed in the 40-yard dash.
Kanonu didn’t have UGA anywhere near his leaderboard … until yesterday. He did take unofficial visits to Alabama, Baylor and TCU earlier this year.
“Coach Smart going there changes everything,” he told DawgNation. “He is one of my favorite coaches and we have had some amazing conversations about the future.”
UGA has now immediately vaulted into his Top 2 with TCU.
Kanonu told DawgNation Smart said an offer from Alabama was coming; the school just needed to check out his transcripts. He already has offers from Florida, Texas Tech and TCU, and had listed those two programs plus Alabama and Texas A&M among his top schools.
He hopes to take an unofficial visit to UGA soon. Why?
“He (Smart) is going to change the whole UGA program and bring it back up to its winning tradition,” he said. “Winning national championships.”
Kanonu said Smart was impressed by his speed and length, plus how physical he is at the line of scrimmage. Smart told him he wanted to develop him into a great defensive back.
When he tweeted out his appreciation for the Smart hire on Tuesday night, he said his phone started blowing up with “hundreds” of interactions from UGA fans.
“Amazing,” Kanonu said.
Kanonu said he plans to make his commitment in February. When he arrives in January of 2017, he will have two years of eligibility for football.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.