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Bulldogs football coach Kirby Smart flew by helicopter to visit high schools throughout Georgia this week.

WATCH: Kirby Smart takes helicopter to visit high schools

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The Kirbycopter is back in action

We’re going to take a short break from out “Way-Too-Early Look at 2018” — you can check out the eight posts in the series so far below — because Kirby Smart is out ‘crootin.

Smart used one of his trademark moves on the recruiting trail in his two years at UGA and flew by helicopter (aka Kirbycopter) to visit high schools throughout Georgia on Monday and Tuesday.  According to Jordan D. Hill of The Ledger-Enquirer, Smart could have visited as many as 15 high schools Tuesday, including stops at Callaway, Northside and Troup County, to name a few.

High school visits such as these are some of the most important trips a coach can take on the recruiting trail. It not only provides an opportunity for Smart to make an impression on prospects in the 2018 and 2019 classes, but also promising freshmen and sophomores. It also helps him build relationships with high school coaches throughout the state, which are crucial if he wants to continue the trend of keeping the Peach State’s best talent at home. These trips aren’t about just solidifying the 2018 recruiting class. They’re about laying the groundwork for recruiting classes one year, two years, three years down the road.

The Kirbycopter is a valuable tool to achieving that. It’s a power move, and a lot of it is about show. A talented 15-year-old prospect will remember Smart landing in the middle of his football field in a few years when he’s making a college decision. I doubt showing up like that alone ever will sign a recruit, but it’s a hell of a first impression to build on. Smart also only has so much time to make as many trips as possible to high schools, so a chopper jumping from one school to the next is the best way to maximize the number of visits.

Which is all to say, the Kirbycopter is here to stay.

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A Way-Too-Early Look at 2018: Schedule breakdown | Top 10 players | Early enrollee rankings | Top redshirt freshmen | Top rising sophomores | Top rising juniors | Top rising seniors | Potential breakout players

An update on Natrez Patrick

We’ve finally received some clarity about the status of Natrez Patrick, who entered drug treatment before Georgia’s run in the College Football Playoff. And it’s good news for the Bulldogs and, more importantly, for Patrick.

“Natrez is doing very well in his treatment,” Patrick’s lawyer, Billy Healan, said in a text message to Seth Emerson of DawgNation. “He is enrolled in classes this semester. He is still on the football team and is looking forward to the upcoming season.” More from Emerson:

It’s unclear whether Patrick, assuming he remains with the team, will face any additional suspensions for the 2018 season. He served a four-game suspension during the 2017 season for a second violation of the UGA student-athlete drug policy, and a third violation means automatic dismissal. But a revision of the policy made last year allows for some leeway, according to Ron Courson, associate athletics director for sports medicine.

Healan reiterated that he believes Patrick should be eligible.

“From a legal perspective and according to the UGA Athletic Association substance abuse policy, I believe he should be eligible. I still stand by that opinion I gave you previously,” Healan said, adding: “As for playing time, that is obviously up to the coaches. They don’t usually consult a player’s lawyer on that issue.”

Georgia hoops blows another 16-point lead

A once-promising season for Georgia basketball is beginning to unravel. The Bulldogs blew a 16-point first-half lead and lost their fourth SEC game in their last five outings Tuesday, falling to Arkansas 80-77 in double-overtime at Stegeman Coliseum. It’s the second straight game they’ve surrendered a double-digit lead. Yante Maten missed a contested layup with 2.2 seconds left in the second overtime. Following 2 made free throws by the Razorbacks, Maten got another chance to tie the game as time expired, but his 3-pointer missed the mark.

Maten recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Daryl Macon scored 25 points for Arkansas, including 3 consecutive 3-pointers in the second overtime.

“We just came up one play short,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said, according to Emerson. “I don’t think our offense was the issue. They made 8 out of 9 to finish the half, or 7, they shot 60 percent in the second half, I thought that was a far greater issue in the game, is that we didn’t consistently get stops for a large chunk of regulation. And so I would say that was a bigger factor in my opinion. We did a lot of things we wanted to do in the game, but obviously didn’t finish it.”

Georgia sends 6 to visit 4-star Rick Sandidge

Four-star defensive tackle Rick Sandidge is one of the top targets left on Smart’s 2018 recruiting board, and it shows from the full-court press Georgia is putting on the big man from Concord, N.C. According to Jeff Sentell of DawgNation, the Dawgs sent six staff members to visit Sandidge and his family on Monday.

  • Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
  • Defensive line coach Tray Scott (Scott, along with Jennings, are the core UGA relationships for Sandidge).
  • New outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning.
  • Inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann.
  • The aforementioned [director of player development Jonas] Jennings. He’s on the road after the staff departures of Kevin Sherrer and Shane Beamer. The NCAA permits 10 assistants on the road at any one time, and Jennings was pinch-hitting this week.
  • Current on-the-road recruiter Tyson Summers.

Check out the post for lots more info on Georgia’s visit with Sandidge. Sentell also has an update on how the departure of Shane Beamer will affect the recruitment of 2019 4-star TE Rylan Goede.

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