(1) Georgia
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Final
22
Missouri
Georgia All-American and Outland Trophy winner Jordan Davis is the type of player with the right "foundation" Kirby Smart is looking for in prospects.
Curtis Compton/AJC

Georgia coach Kirby Smart shares how he knows when he’s ‘probably on the wrong kid’ in recruiting

DESTIN, Fla. — Georgia coach Kirby Smart is the first to acknowledge the recruiting game has changed, and in some ways not for the better under the influence of the NIL.

But Smart made clear this week at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, “I still enjoy it — enjoy recruiting the right kind of kids.”

Smart and the reigning national champion Bulldogs will welcome six of the Top 125 undecided targets in the 2023 Class among the 12 official visitors this weekend.

Arch Manning, the No. 1 prospect in the nation, will be among the incoming group who will begin arriving around noon on Friday.

Manning’s talents are obvious, but the New Orleans Isidore Newman product also fits the “right foundation” template Smart described during an SEC Network interview in Destin.

“I don’t care if the foundation is at home, your grandma grandaddy, or a high school coach or mentor or trainer,” Smart said. “If you have the right foundation and you’re saying the right things during recruiting, then I like recruiting.

“I don’t like recruiting when it becomes ‘OK, well let’s sit down and talk. What are your players making in NIL, and what do you foresee him being able to make?”

Smart explained just how shortsighted it is for prospects to chase the early money, as opposed to making decisions that serve them better over the long term.

“That’s what everybody forgets about this whole NIL conversation,” Smart said. “You get through playing, NIL is gone, what do you have to show for it? You either have an NFL career, you have a life after a football career, or you have a degree.

“They are not going to continue to pay you, whatever it is, that’s not the be-all end all, that’s not the goal.”

Prospects considering Georgia don’t have to look back to far to see the blueprint, with the Bulldogs capping their national championship season with a record-breaking NFL Draft class of 15 players.

“The goal is to come in here and be as good as you can so that you can sign what those 15 guys drafted signed,” Smart said, “which is for millions and millions of dollars, not hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Smart and his coaching staff are well aware that NIL conversations will take place, and UGA is allowed to share what past players have made in their NIL dealings provided they do not use that as an inducement.

But the seventh-year Georgia head coach is upfront when forewarning prospects that’s not where he wants the conversation to start.

“That part probably frustrates me more, if everything is about that, I’m probably on the wrong kid,” Smart said. “At least have enough respect to say, ‘I want to come there and be a really good football player, and play on your team and win a championship for Georgia, (and) oh by the way, while I’m here, I would like to attain as much as I can.

“I have no problem with that. But if the other is the first priority, we probably need to find somebody else.”

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