Georgia Football: Is Kirby Smart Changing His Recruiting Strategy for 2021?

Brooks Austin

Since taking over as the head coach for the University of Georgia, Kirby Smart has recruited at an all-time level even for UGA which has found itself outside of the Top-10 in recruiting just twice since 2000. 

Since 2017, his first full class as the head coach, Smart has brought in a Top-3 ranked class every single recruiting cycle, including most likely the 2020 recruiting class. Which, depending on how they finish could chase for the #1 overall spot for the second time under Smart. 

However, Smart and his staff's actions over the last week would lead one to believe that perhaps the head ball coach is changing his recruiting strategy moving forward. 

Here's a list of the latest recruits to receive an offer from UGA in the last week:

  • Ryan Barnes: 2021 CB (No Stars/No Ranking) 
  • Marcus Bradley: 2021 DT (4-star/173rd Nationally) 
  • Dominic Lovett: 2021 WR (4-star/303rd Nationally) 
  • Cameron Kinnie: 2021 DT (3-Star/1925th Nationally)
  • Ladd McConkey: 2020 WR (No Stars/No Ranking) 
  • Khari Johnson: 2021 CB (3-star/2203rd Nationally) 
  • Gabe Irvin: 2021 RB (3-star/887th Nationally) 
  • Marlin Dean: 2021 DT (No Stars/No Ranking)
  • New Zealand Willaims: 2021 S (No Stars/No Ranking) 
  • Zaire Patterson: 2021 DE (4-Star/284th Nationally) 
  • Mike Jackson: 2022 ATH (2022 class not ranked yet) 
  • Keeshawn Silver: 2021 DE (3-star/351st Nationally) 

*All rankings provided by

Now, a lot goes into this. It's extremely early for the 2021 class, in fact, the Georgia staff really just started to sink its teeth into it. They've given out 165 offers in the 2021 cycle so far, which is a little over half of Smart's traditional average. 

Not to mention these recruits are set for quite the bump in terms of the national spotlight and recruiting rankings. As the offers roll in, so will the stars from the respected recruiting services. 

I don't think the days of Kirby Smart pulling in a Top-5 class are over. I mean, after all, the nation's top available quarterback and 5-star, Brock Vandagriff did just commit. All I'm saying is, perhaps the days of relentlessly pursuing the top recruiting ranking have subsided. 

The most recent offers as you can see reflect exactly what Ladd McConkey told Bulldog Maven yesterday, Smart is no longer looking for guys with simply talent, he wants that talent paired with character: 

"He was saying how he wanted guys with high character that he wouldn't have to worry about skipping class or making bad decisions, good athletes that he could rely on and that's what he saw me as."

He's done worrying about skipping class and bad decisions. He's prioritizing character paired with talent. 

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Comments (3)
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How much do you think coaches look at the recruiting rankings? I know they are probably more reliant on their own eyes and "gut" for their own rankings but I think Kirby probably cares about getting a top class to some degree. Not because it matters to him but because recruits see that.