Happy Hump Day, DawgNation! News broke last night that Kirby Smart is expected to become the next coach at UGA. Smart has been Nick Saban’s defense coordinator at Alabama since 2008 and appears ready to step into the role and adjust to the head coach’s role.
Recruiting is something he won’t need to adjust to.
Like Jeremy Pruitt, Smart is very well-known for his abilities on the prospect trail. If there were concerns about this class falling apart after Mark Richt’s departure, hiring Smart could keep it together and then some. Alabama consistently has some of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes, and Smart is a big reason why.
It remains to be seen how the rest of Smart’s staff will shape up. Some feel Pruitt will not return, and reports are out that Smart’s first choice for defensive coordinator is Will Muschamp, but nothing is set in stone yet. Regardless, any two of those three have proven more than capable on and off the field.
The real remaining question is at offensive coordinator. Jacob Eason wants to play in a Pro-Style offense, which UGA ran under Richt. If Smart decides to bring in a coordinator who runs a spread offense or something similar, it could impact Eason’s commitment. That is something to worry about at a different time, however.
For now, it appears Smart is headed to UGA, and that is a good thing.
1. Eason’s coach urges fans to “put the razor blades away”
A scare went through DawgNation when reports surfaced Eason would take an official visit to Florida — which he arrived for on Tuesday. Eason’s high school coach, Tom Tri, believes fans are making much ado about nothing.
“Tell those folks in Georgia to put the razor blades away,” Tri told DawgNation.
He said he thinks Eason is just keeping his options open but still believes the 5-star quarterback will end up at UGA. Tri also provided some information that should help fans feel better about Eason’s trip to Florida.
Eason has been waiting to see who UGA would name as a coach, so it will be interesting to see his reaction to the Smart hire. Stay tuned to DawgNation for updates on the situation.
2. 5-star support for the Smart hire
UGA’s recruiting class was on its way to becoming the highest-rated class of the Mark Richt era. A few remaining 5-star targets could have pushed the class over the top if they committed. That possibility looked tough after the news of Richt’s dismissal, but this move should restore some of that momentum.
William Poole, a junior cornerback from Atlanta’s Hapeville Charter, said the Smart announcement was “the news I’ve been waiting for.”
The other 5-star is a name that should grab everyone’s attention. Isaac Nauta, the No. 1 tight end prospect for 2016, told DawgNation the move was “a huge pickup.” That wasn’t the only thing he said, however, he also revealed whether the move renewed his interest in UGA or increased it.
3. Top commits and targets react to Smart news
The 17 players committed to UGA did so under the belief they would be playing for Richt. So how do they feel now that Smart appears to be the man in charge?
DawgNation reached out to the commits to get their reactions, and there were some interesting responses.
The commits weren’t the only ones who shared their reaction to Tuesday’s announcement. UGA’s top remaining targets expressed excitement at having Smart donning the red and black. One of the nation’s top juniors even predicted national championships coming in the future.
4. The offers of UGA’s current commitments will be honored
Any time a coaching change takes place, there is a chance the new regime will not see the same thing in a commitment the previous one did. This can make life a little stressful for a player who has dedicated the next few years of his life to play for a school and coach, only to see that possibility vanish with little time to make another big decision.
That won’t happen for the prospects who have committed to UGA for 2016. UGA’s coaching staff has assured the commits that their agreement would be honored no matter who was on the new coaching staff. It’s nice to see a school show loyalty to those players in a situation like this, and it speaks volumes with some families and prospects.
5. Is UGA ready to offer another QB?
While Eason may be exploring what other options are available, UGA may be doing the same down the road at that position. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer took a trip Monday to see the nation’s No.6 quarterback prospect for 2017.
UGA already has a commitment from junior quarterback Bailey Hockman, but recently sent out a couple more offers at the position for 2017. If Eason does wind up somewhere else, UGA wants to be prepared. Schottenheimer’s visit is a good way to renew a relationship with one of the state’s best juniors.
Greater Atlanta Christian’s Davis Mills, the prospect Schottenheimer went to see, has an impressive reputation among scouts.
William McFadden covers UGA recruiting for DawgNation and is an SEC multimedia reporter for SECCountry. Give him a follow on Twitter for news and opinions on the latest sports news.