Kirby Smart conducted an in-home visit with Peachtree Ridge defensive back Chad Clay on Tuesday night. The term “reassurance” might best describe that visit.
Clay committed to UGA in May, but the question of the night centered on his value with Smart. Why? Well, Clay never seriously considered Alabama. That’s because he didn’t have an offer or receive serious interest from the Crimson Tide.
Smart answered that question quickly. He had done his homework and watched film and made it clear that Clay is still very much a priority for what he’s building at UGA.
“I think the Bama thing falls on both parties,” said Willie Clay, his father. “I think Chad didn’t really show a lot of interest in Bama. I think from that standpoint it kind of reciprocated both ways. It wasn’t a reflection on Kirby or anything else. There are so many schools out there and so many opportunities out there I don’t think Chad really looked into Alabama like that.”
Willie Clay went by the nickname “Big Play” Clay when he was an All-American at Georgia Tech and during his NFL career. He’s known Smart since his son was a sophomore.
“It seems like he and Coach Richt are similar and have the same kind of philosophies,” Clay said. “They want the same things for Georgia. They seem to want the same things obviously for Chad and trying to build Georgia into a national contender year-in and year-out. Coach Smart also understands there is a whole lot of work to be done.”
Willie Clay thinks Smart “will do a great job at Georgia” and could tell he’s a great recruiter. He said it was easy to see Smart can relate to a lot of people in a variety of different ways.
Smart laughed at one question they had for him. It is the number one question every recruit and family wants to know right now. That’s who will be on his coaching staff. They did not garner any inside information from the visit.
That said, look for the commitment to stick.
“Chad really likes Coach Smart,” Clay said. “I think there’s a really strong chance Chad will be at UGA come January.”
- Clay said his son was in the process of filling out his financial aid papers with UGA when Richt was fired. Chad doesn’t plan to take any other official visits because he is a mid-year enrollee and the dead period is coming up. They still have the papers. Within a week, they plan to file those papers if everything works out with who Smart hires as defensive backs coach and as his defensive coordinator. Clay said “he trusts” Smart will hire the right guys.
- Clay is planning to take an unofficial visit for the UGA end-of-the-year awards banquet weekend. The recruits won’t be at the gala this year, but will now be a part of a different event. It sounds like they want to provide a good atmosphere for the official visit for 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason, among others.
“Their conversation was they want some of the guys and the commitments to come up on an unofficial when Jacob is in town,” Clay said. “I think they are trying to get everybody cranked up for that.”
- LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond will have an in-home visit with Clay on Wednesday.
- Clay felt Smart seemed a lot more “hands-on” than Richt. He said Richt came across as more of a “CEO-type” but Smart seems more involved in everything. That might just be a reflection of the moment. Smart doesn’t have even a shell of a staff around him yet.
- Running back coach Thomas Brown was with Smart. Clay looked at that as an endorsement that Brown would be a part of his plan at UGA. Smart’s Twitter account currently follows Brown. That’s the only member of Richt’s staff he has followed. If Clay had to make a bet, he’s place it on Brown being back.
“Thomas is a really good guy and is obviously a UGA guy,” Willie Clay said. “I really like him and I think he’s really good for the kids and is an integral part of what they are trying to do.”
- Willie Clay asked all the questions about whether the members of the current staff would be back. There was no indication given that certain people were or were not coming back.
“He told us that ‘Just like I am taking to all of you guys I am talking to a lot of coaches also right now’ was how he described it,” Willie Clay said.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and 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.