Georgia coach Kirby Smart joked he hadn’t had much time to stop and enjoy the National Championship win, as he’s been flying around the country to help put the finishing touches on Georgia’s 2022 recruiting class. He’s made multiple coaching hires in that time along with handling all the other parts of the job that come with running a program.

Smart saw his hard work rewarded on Wednesday when the Bulldogs signed the final five members of the 2022 recruiting class. In all, Georgia’s 2022 signing class features 29 signees. Eighteen of those signees enrolled early.

The five signees from Wednesday are 4-star edge rusher Darris Smith, 4-star defensive lineman Christen Miller, 3-star running back Andrew Paul, 3-star linebacker EJ Lightsey and 3-star wide receiver Dillon Bell.

Smart offered up his initial thoughts on those five new Bulldogs, as Wednesday was the first time he could publicly comment on them.

Smart on Darris Smith, 6-foot-6 edge rusher from Baxley, Ga. Played for Appling County High School and was rated as the No. 113 overall player in the On3 Consensus rankings: “Darris Smith is a kid we’re excited about. We’ve loved. He’s got a great work ethic. He’s from a rural town down there, and he’s done a wonderful job every time he’s been up here of competing, working out. He’s got a lot of growth potential. He’s long. He runs well. Kids that are that size that run well tend to do well in our system. He played a receiver at times. He’s running track right now, and he’s one of the fastest track kids in that area, so we’re certainly excited about him. He’s got a lot of development to do.”

Smart on Christen Miller, 6-foot-4 defensive lineman from Ellenwood, Ga. Played for Cedar Grove High School and ranked as the No. 122 overall player in the On3 Consensus rankings: “He comes from a tremendous family. And consistency… when I’ve lost kids that I feel like we should have gotten. Probably the number factor was ‘did we recruit them with the correct consistency’? When a kid honestly tells you he’s going to another place because they recruited him more consistently, it makes it even more evident that you have to be consistent. I’ll say this, We, Tray Scott and Staff, were extremely consistent with Christen Miller and it paid off. The message didn’t change. The consistency didn’t change. He valued relationships and he saw in December, what happens when guys move all over the place. When you have a little bit on continuity in a kids eyes, and we’ve been able to have that and sustain winning success. You tend to attract people that have the same mindset that you do, and I think Christen and Tray have a lot of the same mindset. Christen Miller is a worker. He’s one of the most impressive kids in terms of leadership, that I’ve seen at this age. He willed and pushed that Cedar Grove (HS) team to success. I value that. I value that seeing the kids leaving here that we’re just in the last class. I’m excited about what he can do.”

Smart on Dillon Bell, 6-foot-2 wide receiver from Houston. Played for The Kinkaid School and ranked as the No. 444 overall player in the On3 Consensus rankings: “Dillon is another one that came and worked out. He came through and he was actually here the same day Cole (Speer) was and he stood out. He was big, he was built like a running back. He has power, he has good hands, he has tremendous work ethic. He goes to an extremely academic high school which checks a box for us in terms of being able to handle the academics here at the University of Georgia. When we saw him workout that gave us validation that what we saw on tape was accurate. HE is a tremendous young man so when start to look for size and speed on the perimeter, he has really good size, he has really good speed. That was something that fired us up.”

Smart on EJ Lightsey, 6-foot-2 linebacker from Fitzgerald, Ga. Played for Fitzgerald High School and ranked as the No. 447 overall player in the On3 Consensus rankings: “He’s a kid we had in camp. He’s a kid we never stopped recruiting. We felt very strongly about him. He ran really well at our camp. And… We put a lot of value on camp evaluations. It’s the only thing we see with our eyes. Once the character checks out, academics check out, play tape checks out, everything goes to the camp. This guy did a great job at our camp and is not afraid to work in this day and age of speed and space play, covering people. He’s a tremendous athlete.”

Smart on Andrew Paul, 5-foot-11 running back from Dallas. Played for Parish Episcopal and ranked as the No. 466 overall player in the On3 Consensus rankings: “Andrew Paul is a guy we found out about and discovered. Dell [McGee] did a tremendous job covering the country, looking for the best backs we could possibly bring into the University of Georgia. Anytime you go across the state of Texas, there’s a ton of really good football players - there’s really good high school football in Texas. Dell reached out to me and sent me his Hudl link. I got to watch him and I really liked him. Dell knew the kid and the family. He’s a 210 pound back, and he’s got a great demeanor about him. He loves working out in the weight room, just tremendous background checks where he’s played, and the people he’s played for have a lot of amount of respect for him. Getting to see him play, spending time around him on the actual visit, it validated that. He comes from a military background family which fits a criteria for us in terms of discipline and being made of the right things. Once we checked out all that, it became “was he good enough?”. And we loved him. We think he’s a really good football player with great academics. He won a state championship in high school. If you look at these guys who joined us today, almost every one of them won a state championship in high school which is another indicator of success and winning coming from good teams which is great value for us.”

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart shares his thoughts on the 2022 Signing Class

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