ATHENS — Kirby Smart spelled things out clearly on Tuesday, concise in his mission statement for Georgia football.

“Goals of spring for me would be to expand our roster of winning football players,” Smart said, noting that roughly one-third of the Bulldogs’ roster turns over annually.

“What defines above the line and below the line is, ‘can you play winning football?’ "

It’s a new spin on one of Georgia’s most famous — and noteworthy -- mantras that, “You’re either elite, or you’re not.”

Back to back

That mentality led Smart and Georgia to back-to-back national championships that lifted the Bulldogs over Alabama to the top of college football even before Nick Saban retired.

The former Alabama coach is rightly celebrated for his seven national titles, but Smart has a College Football Hall of Fame resume of his own:

• Only coach in history to win back-to-back CFP Championships

• Only coach to have 3 straight unbeaten SEC seasons in 33-year history of 8-game league slate

• 29-game win streak longest in SEC history, ties CFP-era record originally set by Clemson

Smart’s recent success is so excessive — Georgia hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2020 — that some award voters say they pass on selecting him coach of the year because he’s “supposed” to win.

And yet, Smart explained on Tuesday each season is unto itself, and like his eight previous spring football sessions, and there’s a process to building a team.

Prove you can win

Coming off a 13-1 season and No. 3 national ranking in 2023, Smart said Georgia has “30 or 40 guys that have proven” they can win, and “we’ve got another 30 or 40 that have to prove that to get the team we need to have ready to go play the schedule we have.”

But Smart also noted the need for leaders to be established and returning players to step up.

It’s an annual conversation, but the fact the head coach named players on Tuesday, and acknowledged that his quarterback is not assertive was eye-opening.

Indeed, while Smart said he’s comfortable with where Carson Beck is as a leader, he noted “he’s not an extremely assertive young man” — like most other elite quarterbacks.

Smart also noted leadership isn’t inherited from the previous season and shared how it has to be built through offseason workouts and small group meetings.

One of the bigger concerns for championship programs is avoiding complacency.

Smart noted the issue last spring when he had to get on returning team captain — and now Kentucky transfer Jamon Dumas-Johnson — for not bringing the same level of intensity to the practice field in spring drills.

The Top 33

Georgia’s 2023 offseason was well-documented with off-field issues that went well beyond the lack of intensity from key leaders.

Smart has put his foot down in more than one area since then, and he had warning shots for returning stars on Tuesday, firing out names when discussing the need to avoid complacency.

“As much as it is onboarding the 33 new guys, it’s taking the top 33 — one-third of your team — and making sure they’re not on cruise control and just back to be back, just back to be around,” Smart said.

“I mean, the guys like Naz (Stackhouse), Tate Ratledge, (Xavier) Truss, Warren Brinson, Carson Beck. I mean, these guys have been a core part of our program for a long time. They’ve got to continue to grow and develop themselves. Otherwise, we’re pretty stagnant.”

Stackhouse and Brinson, in particular, will be under the microscope after Georgia’s level of interior line play dropped out of the elite ranks last season.

Standard Set

Beck, as noted, will need to show leadership with five transfer receivers to break in, along with a tailback and tight end transfer who each figure to be impact players.

Smart made it clear the Georgia standard will not change, though the methods used to build these Bulldogs does vary based on the personnel from year to year.

“I think we’re always changing and evolving,” Smart said. “If anything, it’s how you cultivate your team each year because your team changes so much each year.”

The expectation is that the results will not change, with Georgia a preseason No. 1 according to most pundits.