Dean Legge is prone to hyperbole, so you have to wade past the broad pronouncements in this post — there will have to be at least a couple of national signing days in the rear view mirror before I’m ready to proclaim that Kirby Smart is out-recruiting Nick Saban — but I will admit this little tidbit is interesting:
With all of that said, have a look at the current trajectory of Kirby’s recruiting vs. Mark Richt’s time in Athens as well as some of UGA’s peers in college football. Kirby has signed or gotten commitments from 36 players who qualify to be ranked in Scout’s Top 300 (2019’s Luke Griffin will almost certainly be considered a Top 300 player, but our ranking for rising sophomores is not out yet). Of those 36 players, 27 of them are Scout Top 300 players. That’s a 75% rate of Scout 300 prospects secured by Kirby so far in seven months – pretty good.
What happened in the Richt era? From 2008 to 2015, Mark Richt signed 190 prospects – 97 of them were Scout Top 300 players. That’s 51%, or every other prospect being one of the top 300 players in the country. Pretty good. At least good enough to win division titles and pretty much win ten games a season. 51% is a rate many programs around the country would take in that time.
Had Richt signed players at the same clip Kirby is signing them right now he would have signed 143 Top 300 players – about 46 more of them over eight years. That means UGA would have had a floating average of about 20 more Top 300 players each year in the program (a little more than five per class). That would have made a difference, because those players would have been near the top of the list of the 85 scholarship players – not at the bottom simply due to the fat (sic) that they were Scout 300 players. In other words they would have played – many would have been starters.
Obviously the 2017 hay is a long way from being in the barn (it’s a real stretch to claim that “Kirby is signing them now”), but strictly in terms of judging the trajectory of Georgia’s recruiting efforts and impact, it’s clear that there’s been a change in bending the arc upwards since Smart took over the reins from Richt. And Legge is correct to point out that there would be a real effect over time as the improvement accumulates… assuming it does, of course.
No, that doesn’t translate into an automatic berth in the SECCG, or the national playoffs. But it sure as hell doesn’t hurt Georgia’s chances.