Here’s another stone Kirby Smart isn’t leaving unturned.
The wide angle at work is an example of how Kirby Smart will explore every available resource to augment the talent on the roster. He’s revamping things daily in recruiting scholarship players, but the staff will now squeeze all it can out of the walk-on program, too…
“He then kind of broke down their new walk-on philosophy,” Parker said. “I think you are going to see more stories like this coming out of Georgia because of the philosophy change there with walk-ons under Kirby. They are going to try real hard to get some of these I-AA kids or Division II kids and ask them instead of going somewhere else and paying out-of-pocket to play to instead look to walk-on at Georgia.”
“He said If you go I-AA or Division II out-of-state you won’t get to use your Hope (Scholarship) money,” Parker said. “That out-of-state school will package you up some academic money, but you’re going to get left paying more money than you would if you walked on at Georgia, used your Pell Grant and Hope Scholarship money. Apparently now in NCAA Division I they can pay for the walk-ons to eat. I think that’s all you can do, but he can eat. So financially it made sense and then obviously getting to go to a Power 5 school also made a lot of sense.”
Parker tried to make sure Roberson understood he must constantly impress in practice to get any consideration for playing time. He also made it clear walk-ons are basically extra practice bodies.
“But there are stories all over the place where walk-ons have gone in and showed that grit and determination and made something out of it,” Parker said. “One of the reasons Coach Schumann said they like having walk-ons around is that at a place like Georgia and Alabama they are going to get kids leaving early and transferring out and through the sheer numbers and war of attrition that comes with football they sometimes rely on walk-ons by the time they get to be juniors and seniors for a lot of things in the locker room like leadership.”
Those players still chiefly funnel to scout teams, but they also build depth in spring and fall camp after NFL early entries, rehabs or transfers. Talented walk-ons make the scholarship players better in practice. A strong walk-on program has multiple candidates that are deserving of scholarships.
It’s a brilliant, effective way to make use of Georgia’s natural advantage with the Hope Scholarship. It’s also an honest sales pitch. The result is that it will leave the program with plenty of warm bodies. Who knows? In greater numbers, the odds of finding a real diamond in the rough increase, too.