Most people think College Football is a copycat league. To an extent, they are right, especially when looking at the upper echelon of the sport i.e. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Georgia; as of late, they all are adopting similar strategies for the ways they go about their business.
For Alabama, the ideas from the legendary head coach Nick Saban are consistently being spread throughout the sport as Saban lays claim to one of the most extensive coaching trees the sport of football has seen. From Kirby Smart to Mario Cristobal, Lane Kiffin, and Steve Sarkisian, so many current head coaches have had the opportunity of learning from arguably the greatest head coach of all time.
It was almost a no-brainer for Georgia after parting ways with Mark Richt to go after Kirby Smart. Then the defensive coordinator at Alabama, Smart had seen what it takes to be at the pinnacle of the sport and what it takes to not only get to the top but stay there. It being Smart's alma matter was just the cherry on top for both parties involved.
From his very first day on the job to where he is now, six years later, Smart continues to use the knowledge that he learned from Saban on how he will sustain Georgia's success. But the game is not the same compared to during the 2015 season, the last Smart spent in Tuscaloosa.
The rise of the NCAA Transfer Portal and the ability for players to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness (NIL) is transforming the sport at an insane pace. Unfortunately, like the rest of the sport, Smart is navigating these times without prior guidance, almost like traveling on a new back road that you've never driven down before as you try and navigate around the standstill traffic.
Smart has now set an example for the rest of the sport of using the NCAA Transfer Portal. Just last offseason, Smart used the portal to his advantage and added to an already talented roster with three additions that on paper would answer any remaining questions.
Those three additions being two defensive backs, Derion Kendrick and Tykee Smith, along with wide receiver Arik Gilbert. Kendrick and Smith being the only two that saw the field in 2021, as Gilbert wasn't with the program for the season as he was dealing with personal issues. While Smith played in just one game before a torn ACL injury sidelined him, Kendrick made the type of impact that many expected after transferring from Clemson.
Kendrick was a mainstay at the top of Georgia's depth chart at cornerback and boosted his NFL Draft stock in time under the direction of defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae, Kirby Smart, and Will Muschamp.
Georgia didn't use the portal to add players for the sake of adding players and providing depth; no, Georgia added players who would plug holes and make an impact. The jury is still out on how Gilbert and Smith will perform in 2022, but Kendrick showed why Georgia took a chance on him.
Now it looks like Alabama is trying to replicate the formula Georgia used to help win a national championship over the Crimson Tide this past January, and arguably at a much higher talent rate. Alabama has already added three impact players: former Georgia receiver Jermaine Burton, Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs, and LSU defensive back Elias Ricks.
The trio of portal additions will be joining a roster in Tuscaloosa that is already drawing the College Football world's attention for being the favorite to win the national championship in January of 2023. Meaning Alabama and Georgia will likely renew acquittances again sometime next season.
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