DeVonta Smith, Mac Jones and their connection to Mark Richt’s firing

Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith catches the game-winning touchdown pass past Georgia defensive back Malkom Parrish for a 26-23 victory during overtime in the College Football Playoff Championship game Monday, January 8, 2018, in Atlanta.  Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith catches the game-winning touchdown pass past Georgia defensive back Malkom Parrish for a 26-23 victory during overtime in the College Football Playoff Championship game Monday, January 8, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

In a sense, DeVonta Smith and Mac Jones landed at Alabama as a result of Georgia firing Mark Richt.

When Georgia fired Richt on Nov. 29, 2015, future Heisman Trophy-winner Smith was a junior at Amite (La.) High School. In the August before his junior season, Smith committed to play for Richt and the Bulldogs.

Smith’s commitment to Georgia didn’t survive the departure of Richt. Six-plus weeks after Richt was fired, Smith backed off his commitment to UGA and a year later signed with Alabama.

According to a recent article at SI.com, Jones received little attention from college football powerhouses when he was a senior at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. Few knew that such a successful passing quarterback could come out of a Wing-T offense.

The Sports Illustrated article goes on to say that Alabama offered Jones a scholarship after another recruit backed off his commitment to the Crimson Tide. That recruit was quarterback Jake Fromm of Houston County High in Warner Robins.

Fromm was headed to Alabama before Richt was fired and Kirby Smart left the Alabama staff to succeed Richt in Athens. Fromm went with Smart. That opened a scholarship, and Alabama turned to Jones.

And to think that at the time, most Georgia fans’ biggest recruiting-related angst about the Richt firing was a concern that Jacob Eason might not honor his commitment to UGA. Who knew that the domino effect would be much greater?

By the way, another famous athlete played football (and baseball) at Bolles. He shared a jersey number (No. 10) and a last name with Mac Jones. Who would that be, you may wonder? His name is Chipper Jones.

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