ATHENS — There’s no easy way into the Georgia football program, and that’s probably why relatively few end up wanting out.

After all, the more you invest in something, the harder it is to abandon it.

It’s an important concept to consider with early signing day arriving on Wednesday, bringing with it the optimism of undefeated tomorrows.

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Fact is, the process has just begun for the signees, and no one is exempt from the challenges the transition into a championship football culture presents.

Brock Bowers arrived in Athens as fit as anyone, and yet, the two-time All-American reflected on Wednesday that there were indeed initial struggles.

Even for him.

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“I definitely had some doubts, especially when I first got here,” Bowers said on Wednesday. “I called my mom, and I was like, ‘I don’t know, it’s hard.’ It was just a completely different change.

“Once I got used to the change, everything was all good, and it was exactly where I wanted to be.”

The program doesn’t work itself around the players, so much as the players must learn what it takes to fit into the culture that has been created.

That’s part of how Kirby Smart sorts out the best fits for Georgia football from among the best players in the nation.

It’s really not for everyone.

“One thing in the coaching business you better value now more than ever is high character, tough, hard-nosed football players that are coming here with an understanding that they’re committed to excellence,” Smart said.

“(That’s) in terms of classroom, competitiveness, toughness, loving football, and these guys understand that … I really don’t want anybody to be here that doesn’t like practicing hard …”

Make no mistake about it, Georgia football hits harder than any high school prospect could expect.

Even a player like Kearis Jackson from Peach County High School, a well-regarded program where lifting weights five days a week is part of the regimen.

“Those first few winter workouts, I was like, I don’t know if I want to play football again,” Jackson said.

“They were just coming off the natty loss, and I was like, if I’ve got to do this for four years, I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

“But I’m here for year five, no workout has killed me yet, so I’m excited to keep working.”

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The old adage “iron sharpens iron” comes to mind, and the sooner players can adapt the better.

It’s why enrolling and practicing with the team is trending up, to the extent Georgia has had nine of its early enrollees working out with the team in the bowl practices.

It has helped in the most practical sense of providing fresh legs and depth on the scout teams as the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs prepare for their CFP Peach Bowl Semifinal against Ohio State at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 in Atlanta.

But it has also given the incoming players a head start on wrapping their brains — and adjusting their mentality — to handle what is ahead.

“They will be so much further and better when the spring comes,” Smart said, “because of getting comfortable at practice, going out there and knowing where I go to after flex, what do I do next?”

There will be phone calls back home — Smart admits he had a few himself even back in his day as a Georgia football player.

But there are also leaders abound, ready to share the encouragement and wisdom needed for those young players to make it to the next day.

“Just show up every day, be consistent in everything you do,” Bowers said he advises his young teammates.

“Prove to everyone you can do your job day in and day out, and play football, and they’ll find a spot for you.”

Smart wouldn’t have signed these players if he didn’t believe they could make the adjustment, or wouldn’t be willing to stick it out when adversity arises.

But Smart, at the same time, knows better to assume anything and will withhold his judgment until the process is complete.

“I only compare our (signing class) to what they do when they leave, not what they do when they arrive,” said Smart, whose outgoing class of seniors set a program record for wins.

“How many of them graduate, how many wins they have, what kind of people they become.

“How they integrate into our culture is probably the best defining success quality. Hopefully, they’ll do that well.”