Georgia football coach Kirby Smart had his game face on when he took to the ESPNU airwaves Wednesday to answer questions about his third consecutive top-three ranked recruiting class.
“I think with each class we’ve grown, (but) we’ve got some areas we have to improve upon. Our staff has done a tremendous job, our administration has done a great job,” said Smart, who had the No. 1 signing class in 2018. “What a great product you have to sell when you have an academic institution like Georgia.
“One of my favorite things about the last three classes is the academic nature of every kid we’ve been able to sign has been a great advantage for our school.”
Georgia’s signing class is ranked No. 2, per the 247Sports Composite ranking, and it’s likely to stay there with the Bulldogs signing a nation-high five 5-star players in the 2019 class.
Receiver George Pickens, from Hoover, Ala., is the latest 5-star to choose Georgia, a signing-day flip that sent shockwaves across the nation. Pickens previously was committed to Auburn.
“George is a kid who visited over here multiple times, he came to our game against Auburn as an unofficial visitor and had a great time,” Smart said. “I thought we had a tremendous official visit with him a couple weeks ago when he came over to campus, we didn’t have a lot of other kids here, we only had a few spots that we were narrowing our focus on.
“Even into the in-homes last week, I thought we had a great in-home visit. He was very honest with us, told us where we stood, and he thought this was the best fit.”
So, Smart was asked on ESPNU, just how hard does Georgia continue to recruit players who are committed elsewhere?
“I recruit them as hard as people recruit our committed players, so it’s certainly an open game,” Smart said. “You know that really, when you’ve got someone committed, you’re just a target, no one stops recruiting kids nowadays, it’s just the way of the world.”
No doubt, Georgia once had commitments from 5-star prospects Jadon Haselwood and John Emery Jr., both of whom ultimately flipped — to Oklahoma and LSU, respectively.
Smart explained it’s a matter of course to follow up with recruits who have shown interest.
“I think it’s keeping an open line of communication,” Smart said. “When you do that, and you keep yourself in the areas you need and the areas you are concerned with, you’re able to sign good players.”
In the Bulldogs’ case, that approach proved pivotal when the three top receivers from the 2018 season decided to forego their senior seasons to become eligible for the NFL Draft.
“Coming out of the December signing date, we had some surprise guys leave early, tight end and receivers especially,” Smart said, “So we had to fill those needs, and I thought that’s what we really went after and really targeted, and we were able to do that.”
Pickens was the highlight for the Bulldogs on Wednesday, but Georgia also got a signing-day decision from tight end Brett Seither, a 3-star tight end out of Clearwater, Fla.
Former Tennessee captain Eli Wolf, a graduate-transfer tight end, will choose between Georgia and Ohio State after taking a visit to the Buckeyes this week. Wolf’s scholarship will count toward the 2020 class.
Georgia Class of 2019
Player, Pos., Ht., Wt., Hometown
George Pickens, WR, 6-3, 190, Hoover, Ala.
Brett Seither, TE, 6-5, 228, Clearwater, Fla.
*Stetson Bennett, QB, 5-11, 190, Blackshear/Jones Co. JC (Miss.)
Dominick Blaylock, WR, 6-1, 195, Marietta
Lewis Cine, DB, 6-1, 185, Cedar Hill, Texas
D.J. Daniel, DB, 6-1, 185, Griffin
Rian Davis, LB, 6-2, 230, Apopka, Fla.
Nakobe Dean, LB, 6-0, 220, Horn Lake, Miss.
Ryland Goede, TE, 6-6, 240, Kennesaw
Jermaine Johnson, LB, 6-5, 240, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Zion Logue, DL, 6-5, 295, Lebanon, Tenn.
Trezmen Marshall, LB, 6-1, 230, Homerville
Dwan Mathis, QB, 6-6, 205, Belleville, Mich.
Warren McClendon, OL, 6-4, 320, Brunswick
Kenny McIntosh, RB, 6-1, 210, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Tymon Mitchell, DL, 6-3, 315, Nashville, Tenn.
William Norton, DL, 6-6, 285, Memphis, Tenn.
Nolan Smith, LB, 6-3, 235, Savannah
Tyrique Stevenson, DB, 6-0, 202, Miami
Makiya Tongue, WR, 6-2, 210, Baton Rouge, La.
Xavier Truss, OL, 6-7, 330, Warwick, R.I.
Travon Walker, DL, 6-5, 290, Thomaston
Tramel Walthour, DT, 6-4, 280, Hinesville
Clay Webb, OL, 6-3, 290, Oxford, Ala.
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