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George Pickens/Instagram
Georgia signed wide receiver George Pickens in February.

Kirby Smart’s comments on 5-star WR George Pickens only add intrigue

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Georgia football coach Kirby Smart gave some telling comments on 5-star WR George Pickens

Very rarely does Georgia football coach Kirby Smart comment publicly on some of Georgia’s players. He’s not one to heap praise or peel back the curtain on how he views a player. That’s what make his comments on 5-star wide receiver George Pickens so interesting.

Smart was initially asked about graduate transfers during his press conference on Tuesday. He can’t discuss Lawrence Cager or Eli Wolf, as neither are officially a part of the Georgia program yet. But Smart did bring up Pickens, as well as 3-star tight end Brett Seither. Both players signed with Georgia on National Signing Day.

WATCH: Kirby Smart sheds light on James Coley ‘balanced’ offense philosophy

And like most Georgia fans, Smart seems pretty excited about what Georgia is getting in the 5-star wide receiver from Hoover, Ala.

“We know George is going to fit what we did,” Smart said. “He really was intrigued by the fact that we had the guys come out early, and he knew that he fit in our style system. And we think he’s a talented player that we’re looking forward to working with.”

Pickens, for those who have forgotten, flipped from Auburn to Georgia in February after being a long-time Tigers commit. It was another big recruiting win for the Bulldogs and Smart. Pickens is the first 5-star wide receiver to sign with Georgia in a decade. The last time  a 5-star wide receiver signed with the program was all the way back in 2009. Pickens is rated as the No. 24 overall prospect in the 2019 recruiting cycle, and a number of recruiting experts actually think he’s the best wide receiver prospect in the country.

Related: George Pickens explains why he signed with Georgia football

It’s worth mentioning Pickens still has some academic work to do before he gets to Georgia, but Smart wouldn’t have made such a push to add him if they didn’t think he could get it done.

Pickens isn’t the only big-name wide receiver Georgia is bringing in this offseason, as the Bulldogs also signed 4-star wide receivers Dominick Blaylock and Makiya Tongue. Pickens was rated as the No. 4 wide receiver per the 247Sports Composite. Blaylock was No. 5 and the No. 36 player overall.

The timing of these additions is much-needed, given Georgia lost three of its top four wide receivers from last year as well as tight end Isaac Nauta. Truth be told, Smart probably wishes Pickens, Blaylock, Tongue and Cager were all on campus already.

Georgia still has a number of interesting options at the position such as guys like Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers, Tommy Bush, Demetris Robertson and Jeremiah Holloman. Smart is also excited to see what they bring to the table this spring.

“We’re going to find out what they’re about,” Smart said. “We’re going to see if they can go out and compete and go against the best and make plays.”

When you’ve signed as many 5-star prospects and potential difference makers as Georgia has in recent years, it’s easy to overlook some guys. Given that Georgia has a glut of talent, it’s easy to not give proper players the spotlight they deserve.

Related: The national media is making a big mistake by sleeping on Nolan Smith

But with Smart’s comments on Pickens, make no mistake about it: Georgia football is very much looking forward to seeing what Pickens can do as a part of the offense.

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Tate Martell and the transfer portal

On Tuesday, former Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell was granted immediate eligibility to play at Miami. To some, this is seen as an even bigger deal in the grand scheme of college football than the Justin Fields decision.

What does this means for Georgia in the immediate? Not much.  Fields, tight end Luke Ford and defensive back Deangelo Gibbs have already left the program. But it’s not far-fetched to think that another round of transfers is possible after spring practice. Guys will have a better idea of where they stand in terms of playing time. Some will tempted to put their name into the transfer portal and explore a situation for more playing time.

As of today, it’s easy to say that this is the start of free agency in college football. I’m not yet willing to go that far. But it’s very clear that college football is on a slippery slope when it comes to that.

Let’s say that the NCAA granted Martell’s transfer request because the coach who recruited him to Ohio State — Urban Meyer — is no longer the head coach there. Coaches move around all the time and in the past, it has been unfair to players that coaches are allowed to jump immediately to better situations.

If we go back to the 2015 offseason, let’s say that Sony Michel, Nick Chubb or Roquan Smith wanted to look elsewhere after the coaching change. Georgia would certainly have been much worse off had they chosen to do so. And it’s fair to say the players wouldn’t have found the success and love they did at Georgia if they went on to play just one or two seasons at another big school.

Will there now be a mass exodus when a coaching change happens? Or will a number of players who decide they no longer want to play for a coach or school? Probably not. But you can expect the number of names to enter the transfer portal to tick up in the years to come. Players pretty clearly don’t have to sit out a season anymore, and that should only further entice them to look for better opportunities.

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