Turned out and tuned up

I have a non-snarky question for the class.

I know Kirby thinks it’s a big deal, but when I see the occasional poll of recruits about what factors are important in choosing a football program, there are all kinds of things cited, like education, proximity to home, bonding with staff, opportunity to win championships, preparation for a pro career, etc.  But one thing I’ve never seen on a list is fan turnout at a spring game.

So, just wondering… how much do you think it matters?  Is it something that a recruit makes a priority, something that maybe is a tiebreaker in a close call, or simply something nice to note?

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74 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

74 responses to “Turned out and tuned up

  1. From what I’ve read from some of the recruit’s reactions, they were really impressed at the turnout of fans. I’m assuming it gives them a sense of what it would be like to play between the hedges. And most seemed to really have fun. I think it could be a deciding factor for some but I would more likely file it in the “Can’t Hurt” category. Imagine being a recruit at our spring game versus the Tech spring game. I’m sure the Tech spring game could be file under the “Can Hurt” category.

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    • I’m in the same boat. Not sure any of the given options necessarily apply, but it’s certainly another opportunity to show how many people have come to love the Classic City.

      Unlike the Senator, I don’t see any issue with the head coach of any team asking fans to turn out for an event. Regardless of how they spin the rationale, any coach knows that greater turnout and overall excitement/energy around the program breeds more excitement/energy. Kirby leveraging it as a request to aid in recruiting is just the methodology that he thinks will most encourage fans to show-up IMO.

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      • Athens Townie

        Yea, I think the excitement/energy thing is the key.

        Do recruits care about spring game attendance? Maybe not specifically.

        But do they care about the excitement/energy around a program? Yes. And does a lit spring game say excitement/energy loud and clear? Yes again.

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      • BMan

        I agree with this. I think having a packed Spring game gives Kirby a chance to use it as another big “recruiting event” like some of the other milestone weekends when he can plan on hosting lots of recruits at once, and get them talking to one another about how they can all picture themselves together in Athens. Recruits are influenced by other recruits, and it all gives a great chance to make a social media splash about being at G Day. The kids do like themselves some Instagram, after all.

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  2. ETDF

    On paper, I wouldn’t say that it is a top 5 factor. However, I would say that it gives a “buzz” to the event which has an emotional impact. An emotions tend to amplify memories. Thus, it has a larger effect than we/they realize. Psychology of recruiting. It matters, otherwise CJP wouldnt be making a big deal out of it.

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  3. It’s nice to note, but a recruit who makes his decision based on attendance at a spring game is just like the GTP troll who tells everyone who the starting QB should be based on G-Day QBRs.

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  4. Biggus Rickus

    I assume it varies wildly from recruit to recruit, and when it does have an effect, it’s probably only a piece of a favorable opinion built from however many experiences he has with a University. It’s likely something akin to good customer service in how it affects the recruit’s decision.

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  5. 3rdandGrantham

    Until a year or so I thought spring game attendances were trivial and just some cute event. Now, I absolutely know they are a big deal. Why? Because they can be a huge differentiator. In other words, the AU’s, UT’s, UF’s, etc. of the world for the most part fill their stadiums on game day…just like us. But if we pack in 80K for a spring game while AU only has 25K there, that is a glaring difference. Of course, the UT’s of the world will inflate their number to 65K, but anyone with a >75 IQ knows the true number was around 40K.

    Look no further than comments from guys like Isiah Wilson and other top recent recruits, who have stated that our spring game attendance really helped to separate us from our rivals. Hell, yesterday alone Jay Hayes (the ND transfer) said the main reason why he flipped from OU to us was because of his G-day experience he had last weekend. In other words, if we would have had a AU, UT, SCU, or even UF type of a turnout, he most likely would have stayed with OU.

    Liked by 1 person

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. Plus having G-Day a few days before the nfl draft allows Kirby to piggyback on all the pre-draft hype to some extent. AND having players like pending draftees Chubb, Michel and Roquan there to receive their sec championship rings don’t hurt.

      The fans, and I suppose the school, students, etc. are just a backdrop, but it’s become a huge deal when you’re considering the presentation of the program. Once again, Kirby plays this fiddle like a maestro.

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  6. Brandon

    I think it probably impresses some recruits, it’s probably not as important as the factors you mention in the grand scheme of things but it sure doesn’t hurt. I liked to stretch out on G-Day before but our competitors are putting an emphasis on this kind of thing now, and this is a small price to pay for scores like 41-0, 42-7, 28-7, and 38-7.

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  7. Derek

    I think it’s a significant factor. Excitement and enthusiasm attract attention. It’s not the whole thing, but it’s an important point of emphasis.

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  8. Athens Townie

    I’d suggest reshaping the scope of the original question just a little…

    Fan turnout for a spring game? Yea, maybe not specifically a top concern. But I think that’s framing the question too narrowly.

    Overall excitement around the program and gameday atmosphere? Now we’re getting warmer. And the spring game is something of a barometer for “soft power” factors like this.

    If your spring game is lit, your program is probably doing well. It’s a pretty good indication that there’s a lot of enthusiasm around the program, gamedays are going to be fun and exciting as a player, etc.

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  9. Aladawg

    It don’t mean sh*t.

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  10. GT had theirs on a Friday night and it was untelevised. So, if comparing what we are doing with those idiots? Yes, it is a huge deal to a recruit. 80k vs 45k, not so much, but it does factor in.

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  11. Think it’s just another example of Kirby leaving no detail to chance, particularly in recruiting. As others have pointed out, it probably doesn’t mean much independently, but considered in conjunction with the entire package the staff presents to recruits, it helps.

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  12. DawgPhan

    You aint competing for championships if your spring game is on a cold friday night in front of 700 fans.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Cojones

    Senator, you may not have seen it on a list as fan turnout, but you haven’t been reading the quotes after the Spring Game. More than a few stated that they couldn’t get over that sensation of wearing the Georgia uniform that the crowd spirit gave to them. Can’t remember all that was read, but one particular quote stuck out concerning his Sanford crowd experience of hearing “Georgia!” booming from one side that was answered with “Bulldogs!” on the other side of the stadium. It was the crowd participation that drove the point home to him (and others) that they wanted to play in front of and give back to those fans.

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    • How do you know what I haven’t been reading?

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      • Cojones

        Then I’ll simply state that I think it matters – a lot. These are teenagers, not an adult that sifts the back and forth of applied reasoning, but instead respond to the passionate part of the crowd sell when placed into the context of other factors that stack evenly between teams. Replication of a thunderous crowd noise before ever walking in to play on that field is a good sell that can’t be erased from their impressionable minds.

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  14. TimberRidgeDawg

    Not the biggest piece in the puzzle but the enthusiasm and atmosphere of a big crowd for a scrimmage is a tangible selling point to recruits when Kirby says UGA is the place you want to be.

    He says its an important element and the results seem to indicate he knows what he’s talking about.

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  15. DawgPhan

    Didnt the spring game just help flip the DT from ND?

    The spring game created that opportunity. Does that kid come down for a trip if the spring game isn’t on ESPN and one of the big deals of the day. We might not flip him without getting him on campus.

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  16. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    You can get an ice cream sundae without whipped cream and a cherry on top, but if you have a choice between two otherwise identical ice cream sundaes, most people will choose the one with whipped cream and the cherry. It may not be the main reason to get the sundae in the first place, but I think it goes a little beyond the ‘it can’t hurt’ theory. Just a little something extra.

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  17. I certainly think it helps in terms of tie breakers and all that. More than that, though i think there’s a difference and perception between 40-60,000 and a packed out stadium. Very few teams get anywhere near a packed out stadium in the spring and that’s before you factor in that we have one of the largest stadiums in the country. So i think it’s about proving there really is something different about the people and the fans at Georgia. It’s special enough to get the fans to commit that way so why shouldn’t you?

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  18. The other Doug

    The recruits are 17 years old. They know rationally they need to decide on a school based on playing time, coaches, etc, but their emotional side is a big influence. They want to go where the fun is.

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  19. Ken Wilkinson

    It’s brand building. When you see an ad on TV does it make you want to go out and buy that product? Usually not. But if you see it enough in a positive light, you will think positively about that product when you are purchasing. That much is science. A packed stadium at a spring game is a significant publicity event. Also, D’Andre Swift said in a recent interview the 93k spring game had an impact on his recruitment.

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  20. AJ

    Easy. Cake taste better with icing.

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  21. bubbaking

    I think it means a ton to the 2019 kids when they announce the 2018 kids and hear the roar of 90,000…they envision themselves in that position in a year, and they eat it up! It’s just as important for Kirby to get those kids to the stadium on G-Day as fan participation

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  22. mdcgtp

    Different things matter to different recruits. That said, it theoretically could have an impact in the following ways.

    First, it give the prospects a simulated experience of game day, which again, may or may not be a big factor in choosing UGA.

    Second, for those who care about “fan support”, it gives them a good indication that our fan base is large and loyal. to be clear, it doesn’t mean that programs that draw 20k in the spring don’t draw 101K in the fall.

    In a world where big data captures a lot of the factors that drive consumer behavior, recruiting seemingly remains untouched. Thus, it is hard to say what matters. That said, I am happy that we have a coach that is willing to exploit every tool he has to help us win. As Kirby said, most UGA football fans enjoy the opportunity to watch the team play….even if its not a real game. Kirby is simply channeling that feeling to help the program.

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  23. AthensRules

    I don’t think it is necessarily included as one of the 5 main boxes that the recruits check in the favorably column when finally deciding. I do think it impresses recruits and creates a buzz, a positive emotion and memory. From that it usually generates another visit down the line where Kirby and his staff really work the recruits. A perfect example is D. Swift and his dad. They attended 93k Day and were very impressed. Which lead to an increased interest, which led to multiple visits and ultimately lead to a commitment. There is a saying in recruiting…”follow the visits”. If a packed out G-Day that creates excitement and a great memory for a recruit and his family leads to a willingness of that recruit to visit again then YES it absolutely makes a difference.

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  24. Jared S.

    I agree with the idea that it’s not a decisive factor, but it could definitely be one of many things that seem minor in and of themselves but when taken together help elevate UGA in a potential recruit’s mind.

    In recruiting it’s more than just providing a bunch of facts on paper. Like, look at our academic ranking, or look at how many players we put in the pros, or look what our coaches have accomplished. It’s also about creating an impression. Especially for a recruit’s family. Does this seem like a program and culture that is going to take care of my son and foster excellence? Is this a second family I want him to be a part of for the rest of his life?

    In my mind it seems like having 83,000 warm, generous, fun-loving Dawg fans show up to a scrimmage on a beautiful spring day doesn’t hurt in this regard.

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  25. ApalachDawg

    93k for a scrimmage game means that your program is Winning(cue Charlie sheen) and if you are winning recruits want to be a part of that – I hope we have a vicious cycle of this for decades to come

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  26. jhorne2000

    It’s probably similar to the difference in feeling you have when you to a very nice hotel that has put thought into the details of all of your interactions with it vs one that does a great job of delivering you the minimum you expect or need. Kirby wants you to get used to saying “wow” at everything you see and to note a stark contrast at other places when you don’t.

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  27. Dawg1

    I am amazed how a recruit can pick between let’s say Clemson, FSU, UF, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee (in normal times) and UGA. They all have huge stadiums, historic programs, winning traditions, all games on TV and pretty co-eds!

    A few years ago recruits complained if they didn’t have a big cookie in their room on a visit. Everyone did it, so you had to also.

    ANY differentiator helps you.

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  28. ugafidelis

    I’ll answer the question with a question. How many star-studded #1 recruiting classes did we have before 93k Day?

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  29. JB

    Any event that increases the number of top recruits sure has to help.

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  30. BA Baracus

    I don’t think it’s a deciding factor. Probably not even top 10. As others have said, I think it’s more about the energy & excitement around the program than just the numbers. But like seemingly everything else with Kirby, no detail — no matter how small — is unimportant, and for that, I’m thankful.

    If that means I’m obliged to spend a beautiful spring afternoon in my favorite place on earth, then so be it. 🙂

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  31. HiAltDawg

    It seems to be a bigger deal with the dozen or so students I asked that went (and had fun) than when I was at UGA (Goff Years, lol). Reading many posts from above I think it’s a thing now. I’ll go even so far as wanting to see it as more of an entertainment thing. Bring back some rapper I’ve never heard of and probably don’t like. Heck, bring in multiple acts. Let there be a bigger autograph scene for departing seniors, put a Bulldog Experience in Myers Quad. Put the recruiting class on display more. All things I shake my fist (I’m supposed to be a purist) at but (being a jerk here) with what I saw by our fans at Notre Dame and the Rose Bowl, the time to strike is now. Sure I don’t want to be an ATM or Crootin’ prop, but it’s easy to take after last year’s run.

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  32. David Chadwick

    If the head man thinks it is important then it is. Maybe it is just a psychological door-opener to get kids thinking, giving them something to talk about and bond over. If Kirby feels there is something to it there probably is. He knows the ropes.

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  33. OurADisAGlorifiedBoatAnchor

    A good marketer helps define or shape what’s important to the buyer.

    Kirby’s narrative for recruits is that if you come here you have a base of fans who will go farther to support you as a player. And this is the proof point.

    He’s taking a page from the Midnight Madness playbook from the mid90s when school used a sold out arena to show recruits that their fan base was more nuts than their rivals.

    It’s brilliant.

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  34. BA Baracus

    Also, it probably is at least a small factor in the game being broadcast on ESPN. Being championship contenders certainly helps, but I didn’t see Clemson’s spring game on ESPN last year or the year before, so there have to be other factors there as well. It’s basically a free 2-hr recruiting infomercial.

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  35. UGA '97

    I believe everyone”s points are valid and yes Kirby is using all tools available, proving he cares justified that his fans care, pulling all stops, maintaning competitive advantages, tapping into the recruits emotional psyches, leaving lasting impressions when no college games are played for 9 months, all while keeping them away from Tuscaloosa on the same day…on and on. Senator, what are your thoughts on the importance of fan turn out on G-Day?

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    • I don’t think it hurts, and as other commenters have pointed out, it helps with the way Kirby brands the program’s marketing.

      Do I think it’s decisive in and of itself? Not really, but if I hear recruits answering those polls differently in the future, I’ll certainly change my mind about it.

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      • Cojones

        Was that question asked of the recruits in previous polls? If not, why not ask it of them beginning with the 2018 class?

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        • They don’t ask a specific question. They ask what factors contributed to a recruit’s decision.

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          • Just Chuck (The Other One)

            If you ask an open ended question like this, you have to consider that most kids (people) will begin with the most important factors and stop after one or two. G-Day attendance may be a factor but it’s farther down the list and they stop before they get around to mentioning it. When you ask may also impact your result. Asking right after G-Day may get attendance mentioned by more recruits than if you asked later in the spring.

            My intuition is that the posters who suggested this is part of a package that creates a general impression may be closest to the truth. G-Day attendance may be analogous to four or five brush strokes in a great painting. You don’t notice when they’re there. If they were absent it would make a heck of a difference in the look of the painting.

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            • Cojones

              You wouldn’t have to use conjecture if you just ask the question of the 2018 class that has already committed.

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    • Joseph

      Thats an important point that I think people are missing…when I saw all those recruits on the sideline, I turned to my friends and said, “You know what that means?…it means those recruits aren’t at Alabama’s spring game.”

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  36. FisheriesDawg

    It’s a proxy for the opportunity to win championships.

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  37. PTC DAWG

    IF Kirby thinks it matters, it matters.

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  38. Fetch

    I think the point is, to Kirby, everything matters. In his mind, you never no what item, albeit small, will put a program over the top.

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  39. Russ

    It creates excitement for the program, which influences recruits (to varying degrees). Plus, Kirby say it helps and I can’t argue with his recruiting success.

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  40. Truckin

    I think it has a bunch of influence. Any 4 or 5 star recruit is getting his ass kissed on recruiting trips by all programs. Having the fan base show love has to have influence. Kirby is a salesman.

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  41. 92 grad

    Feels like validation to me. It backs up a lot of the “we’re building something at Georgia” that recruiters lay on the prospects every day.

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  42. Darin Smith

    It can’t matter much…..we are just lying about how many people were there, according to Bama.

    https://www.rollbamaroll.com/2018/4/25/17271476/random-thoughts-spring-college-football-edition-practice-session-alabama-georgia-tennessee

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    • We are living rent free in their empty little Bammer heads. Bless their poor little hearts.

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    • Sanford222view

      Love how he uses Fromm and Fields being sacked 11 times combined as an omen for UGA struggling. Never mind that the two Bama QB’s were sacked 13 times in the A-Day game AND that getting a sack in a spring game is about as difficult as finding someone in Alabama with missing teeth.

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  43. Bamadawg

    So you are invited to two 4th of july parties. You go to one and there are 10 people there drinking beer and talking about the weather. You leave that party and go to the next. There are 50 people there drinking from Kegs, doing hand stands, and talking SEC football. Both people invite you back to thier Halloween party, and you can only go to one this time. Which one do you chose?

    Is the spring game atmosphere a deciding factor? Not by itself. Is it a go one way or another for a fence straddler? Possibly….

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  44. More fans equals more fine women to stare at or flirt with for a young guy, but you will never see that listed under “Reasons Why I Chose Football at UGA.” Naw, it was the great business school fam.

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  45. Uglydawg

    It matters because it has become “a thang”. Now if the stadium isn’t filled for the Spring Game, the fans will be lambasted by the HC. It all started when Saban dressed down the Bama folks for leaving early. Crowd control…it’s part of the process. The crowd is now one more indicator of a serious program. Kirby upped the ante when he orchestrated last Spring’s packed house..even after a mediocre season. Now it’s a thang. One more arrow in a coaches arsenal. That’s why Pruitt was pissed..he was missing that arrow.

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  46. DawgFlan

    An old saw in sales is that the buying decision starts out rationally but ends emotionally. The rational aspects of “buying into” a program are as you listed – education, geography, staff, championships, NFL preparation, etc. – but in the end, emotions and desires will determine how people interpret and prioritize the data. The heart wants what the heart wants, and it will tell the brain how to think. The passion of a fanbase, the program “cache,” the social media cool factor, it all matters. Sell the sizzle, sell the steak.

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  47. I think it is a moot point whether or not it factors into their decision. What it does do is factor into whether some top flight recruits that didn’t have UGA on their radar now do. This was even more true last year but still is true. You have to get their attention before you can get their signature.

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  48. AusDawg85

    Winning breeds winning. #1 in Spring game turnout will get someone’s attention.

    Now the question is…will the fans PAY to attend the Spring game if all the above is true? Asking for a friend…

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  49. 81Dog

    The Process has zero small details. Control all the variables you can, grab all the small edges you can. A handful of small things can add up to a useful thing.

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  50. Charles

    People are famously bad about having accurate insight regarding decisions that are largely emotionally driven, like many purchasing decisions, for example. Of course they are going to cite pragmatic concerns like playing time, competitive league, draft history, and so on. And that all feeds into it. But we often make the actual decision on an emotional attachment. G-day consistently leaves recruits raving about UGA afterward. We get guys who commit at the game and more for whom Trent Smallwood’s prediction shifts toward UGA being the leader.

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  51. SemperFiDawg

    How big is it? Well given the fact that 18 year olds base their decisions on emotion (it’s all they have at that age, lacking any real experience), I would think it’s substantial.

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  52. Dawg151

    I liken it to making a smart decision on the purchase of a vehicle…you go into it considering dependability, gas mileage, how it will hold its value, etc. but when you’re there on the lot, you can’t help but be impressed by a really good looking vehicle.

    Criteria like education, pro potential, proximity to home, and others are all long-term criteria. Seeing a full stadium during a spring practice is immediate and just produces an initial “wow” that can later influence a decision.

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