A game during the early signing period? It could play out for Georgia

Credit: Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart addresses the difficulties of managing virtual recruiting ahead of the early signing period, Dec. 16-18, 2020.

Credit: Georgia Bulldogs

The Division I Football early signing period in 2020 extends from Wednesday, Dec. 16, to Friday, Dec. 18.

Under normal circumstances, the Bulldogs would likely be preparing for a bowl game. In this pandemic season, they could be working to get ready to play Missouri in a regular-season makeup game, while high school football teams in Georgia are still in the midst of the playoffs.

During a recent video call with media, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said it’d practically been a year since he last had an in-person meeting with a recruit.

Recruiting since the pandemic was declared in March has been limited to “virtual visits.” Coaches have not met face-to-face with recruits off campus or had any in-person scouting. Communications with athletes has been restricted to phone or video calls.

Georgia had 17 signees in the No. 4-ranked class of the early signing period last December.

Smart tempered expectations, signaling that this year’s period could be “anti-climatic” as prospects in the 2021 Class likely know where they intend to go but may still be undecided on whether to sign early.

Adding to the difficulty is the potential of playing a game that week.

After Georgia’s Nov. 14 game at Missouri was postponed due to COVID-19, the SEC announced that it would use Saturday, Dec. 19 — the same date as the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta — as a playing date for postponed games.

“It’ll be unique to have a game in that time,” Smart said. “It was worse when we had to prep for a bowl and deal with that. That was hard enough. This is going to be the kids know where they’re going at this point, if they’re signing even that date.”

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