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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine (16) during Georgia’s Pro Day in the Payne Indoor Athletic Facility in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Kirby Smart shares how NFL success helps Georgia football recruiting

ATHENS — When Super Bowl-winning coaches like Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin attend your pro day in person, you’re clearly doing something right in terms of player development. And the hope for Kirby Smart is that all the recruits out there take notice of the NFL attention that has been placed on the Georgia program.

Georgia sent 14 players to the NFL combine, tying the record for most ever sent by one school. Most of those in attendance tested through the roof, adding another impressive chapter in the book about these talented players.

Related: Complete 2022 NFL Combine results from 14 Georgia football attendees

“We want to push what these guys have done out, what they’ve been able to achieve, the amount of NFL personnel here, we want kids to see that,” Smart said.

Smart did joke that high school recruits might not always be paying attention to what accolades are put out by the Georgia football Twitter account. But he also mentions Georgia constantly prepares players for the NFL.

That doesn’t just come in the form of ultra-physical practices and disciplined meetings. But in granting access to NFL personnel over the course of the season.

“We’re one of the few schools in the country where we’re open to NFL teams whenever they can come, they can watch our players,” Smart said. “A lot of coaches aren’t comfortable with that but for us we want our players to get seen, get evaluated and be able to put their best out there. I think that has helped our guys be comfortable in front of NFL personnel because it’s not the first time they’ve done it.”

Part of the reason Alabama has been able to maintain its perch atop college football for the past decade is because of its pipeline of NFL prospects. The Crimson Tide recruits well from the high school ranks, gets them on the field and then spits them out as first-round picks. Do that enough and eventually, the process is self-sustaining.

Georgia had nine players taken in last year’s NFL draft. With the Bulldogs likely to shatter that number this season, the hope is that seeing Georgia players go early in the 2022 NFL Draft will encourage the next wave of prospects to commit to Georgia.

“You’re going to sell the next Jordan Davis on Jordan Davis,” Smart said. “You’re going to sell the next George Pickens on George Pickens. So that helps sell, but ultimately it takes a lot of work and organization.”

Related: Georgia’s George Pickens dishes on A.D. Mitchell’s star potential, Carson Beck’s passing velocity

Just days after Georgia had 122 NFL scouts, coaches and decision-makers on campus, Georgia will have its biggest recruiting weekend to date for the 2023 recruiting cycle. Players such as 5-star quarterback Arch Manning and 5-star defensive lineman Lebbeus Overton will be in town. Should Georgia one day land either of them, it will go a long way in Georgia continuing its success.

But the Bulldogs have already begun to replace some of the talented departing players. That’s the benefit of recruiting so well in the first place.

With Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall and Quay Walker all off to the NFL, Georgia was going to need some more talent in the inside linebacker room. Jamon Dumas-Johnson, Smael Mondon and Xavian Sorey arrived in the 2021 signing class and are poised for bigger roles this season.

But two 2022 signees have already earned strong reviews for the Bulldogs.

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