Bill Belichick gives Georgia football and Kirby Smart a big-time recruiting pitch
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Bill Belichick gives Georgia football and Kirby Smart the easiest recruiting pitch
Whether you like or despise Bill Belichick, he’s undeniably one of the best football coaches of all-time. The New England head coach has shown time and time again that he can find and develop players, even if they weren’t obvious first-round talents.
In recent years, Belichick has taken to drafting or signing a number of Georgia players. He signed David Andrews after the 2015 NFL Draft; Andrews has since gone on to become one of the best centers in the league. In 2018, he drafted two Bulldogs — Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel — in the first round.
And while speaking at Super Bowl Media Day, Belichick explained why he’s grown so fond of Georgia players.
“I think Kirby’s program is excellent to prepare guys for the National Football League,” Belichick said.
Kirby Smart can now walk into any home in the country and prove that Georgia is a place that can put you into the NFL. He began to show it last year when Michel, Wynn, Roquan Smith and Nick Chubb were all taken in the first 35 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft.
And Smart’s draft resume figures to only get longer in the 2019 NFL Draft. Cornerback Deandre Baker, who Smart helped develop into Georgia’s first Jim Thorpe Award winner, has a very good chance of going in the first round. Baker didn’t come to Athens as some mega recruit either. Smart played a big role into turning him into the nation’s top defensive backs.
It’s not hard to see Belichick once again picking another former Bulldog or two in this year’s NFL draft. Someone like outside linebacker D’Andre Walker or tight end Isaac Nauta could fit very well into the Patriots’ system. Those two specifically were very productive at Georgia, and fill possible needs for New England going forward.
Belichick wasn’t the only one who gave Smart and Georgia something to pitch to future Bulldogs. Even years after learning from Smart, former Alabama safety and current Los Angeles Ram Mark Barron praised his former position coach for helping him become a starter in the Super Bowl.
“He taught me so much of what I know about football today,” Barron said. “That’s my guy. It really just a matter of time before he became a great head coach.”
Some Georgia fans have admitted they don’t love that so many former Bulldogs play for New England. They’d much rather have them play for the Falcons or a more likable team. But given Belichick’s success and his fondness of the Georgia program, it shouldn’t come as a shock to see a few more Bulldogs competing for championships in New England in the years to come.
Georgia football has a chance to turn sacks into a strength in 2019
Georgia did a number of things well in 2019. It led the SEC in rushing. Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm threw 30 touchdown passes. Baker won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
But one thing the Bulldogs didn’t do well was pressure the opposing quarterback and create negative plays. Georgia had just 24.0 sacks in 2018. That was 12th in the SEC and 84th in the country. The Bulldogs ranked 95th in the country in tackles for loss.
Georgia had only one player with more than 2.0 sacks in 2018. That was Walker, who is moving onto the NFL. To compare Georgia to the other elite programs in college football, Clemson had 54 sacks, Alabama finished with 45 and Ohio State racked up 41.
When Walker left the SEC championship game with an injury, Georgia didn’t have anyone that could keep Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts in the pocket or pressure him into a mistake. But there’s a good chance that Georgia has multiple guys who could fill that role in 2019.
We’ll start with who Georgia brings back. Both Adam Anderson and Brenton Cox will be sophomores in 2019, and will have an opportunity to dramatically improve. Both Anderson and Cox were 5-star prospects in the 2018 class. The duo has flashed potential, and with another offseason of development, they should be better able to create sacks and tackles for loss.
Then there’s who Georgia is bringing in with its 2019 recruiting class. Georgia signed the No. 1 overall player in the country in defensive end/outside linebacker Nolan Smith. It also signed the nation’s top JUCO prospect in outside linebacker Jermaine Johnson. Both should be able to make the Bulldogs a much better pass-rushing team in 2019.
And we shouldn’t discount the role of 5-star defensive tackle Travon Walker, or Julian Rochester and Tyler Clark on in the interior. They should have an easier time of getting to the quarterback due to the emergence of Jordan Davis at nose tackle.
Georgia’s defense was still very good even without a dynamic pass rush in 2018. But if the Bulldogs could up the sack number from 24 to say 40, it has the potential to go from a very good defense to perhaps the best in the country.
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