Does Mark Richt think Roquan Smith will be a trendsetter?

Does Mark Richt think Roquan Smith will be a trendsetter for future elite prospects?

Smith is the linebacker from Macon County High School who gained national notoriety for declining to sign his national letter of intent (NLI). He is believed to be one of the first elite prospects to do that in football on signing day or after.

UGA's Mark Richt (AJC/Michael Carvell)

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UGA’s Mark Richt (AJC/Michael Carvell)

Smith announced plans to play at UGA last week, famously bypassing the NLI and signing only non-binding scholarship papers with the Bulldogs. He will only be an official recruit when he attends his first day of college classes this summer.

How did Richt feel about Roquan’s decision to not sign an NLI?

“Well, hmmm …” Richt told the AJC on Friday, before pausing for a few seconds.

The UGA coach then deliberated on that question for a little longer.

“I guess it’s new,” Richt said. “But the main thing was that I was happy he signed his scholarship with Georgia.”

Does Richt think Roquan will be a trendsetter for elite prospects in the future?

“Um, I don’t know … It remains to be seen,” he said. This time, it was me who paused for a few seconds to see if he would expand on his answer. Richt didn’t.

Clearly, Richt wasn’t ready to offer an opinion on arguably the hottest topic of this year’s signing day.

Maybe Richt hadn’t had time to process his thoughts on it? (Doubtful, but maybe)

Maybe Richt didn’t want to touch that issue because Roquan is headed to UGA right now? Maybe Richt was thinking if he said something that could be perceived wrongly, it could jeopardize the chances of Roquan showing up at UGA this summer? (I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s certainly a possibility).

So I took the topic in a different direction with Richt — taking Roquan out of the question. I just wanted some insight of how Richt perceived that type of situation.

ILB Roquan Smith (AJC)

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ILB Roquan Smith (AJC)

Here was my last question on that topic: If Matt Stafford or AJ Green had promised you that they were coming to UGA but that they were uncomfortable with signing an NLI, how would you have handled that situation?

After I asked it, there was about five or six seconds of dead silence from other side of the phone. I honestly thought we had gotten disconnected.

“Coach, are you there? Can you hear me?” I asked.

“I can hear you,” Richt said in a soft-spoken tone. “But I don’t have an answer. I don’t know what the answer to that would be.”

When we returned to talk about Roquan the football player – and not a possible trendsetter, Richt was chatty again: “Roquan is a guy that is a very athletic linebacker. He has a great combination of physical toughness but athleticism as well. He’s a guy that we think can not only play in the box, but cover people out the backfield as well. We’re excited about him as a Georgia Bulldog.”

What are your thoughts? Do you think Roquan will be a trendsetter? Please post below.