Here’s an observation from Jeff Sentell’s look at the recruiting class Georgia just signed:

  • Senior film now matters a great deal: This class validates what Smart said at SEC Media Days prior to the 2019 season. He felt that Georgia, along with Alabama in his time there, didn’t take into account a prospect’s senior season during the final evaluations for those players. It was a chief reason why the Bulldogs announced signings from 3-stars in OL Austin Blaske, DB Daran Branch, OL Cameron Kinnie, WR Ladd McConkey and OL Devin Willock. Don’t believe that? Consider for a second that Georgia waited until December of their senior years to offer all of those guys save for Willock. When Willock’s offer became committable in the week leading up to the early signing day, he quickly de-committed from Penn State and sought to join the next class in Athens. 

Now, one year doth not a trend make, but I find that interesting, nonetheless — especially in light of Smart’s decision to release Zachary Evans from his LOI.

This is the kind of decision making process you can engage in when you have a huge staff of analysts you can rely on for a deep dive on a recruiting class.  It also helps to be doing so from a position of strength with regard to roster depth and quality of existing commitments/signees, which gives you more room to pick and choose players unearthed by your staff who may not get the same love from the recruiting services.

Again, who knows if this will be the story going forward, but I am curious to see how many of these three-star kids wind up panning out for Smart over the next few seasons.


Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

27 responses to “Selective

  1. Bay Area Dawg

    I would think this makes a lot of sense. We are talking about 17 & 18 year old kids here. Some kids are late bloomers, could take time to grow into their bodies or could have just picked up football late in life. Maybe they were buried on a depth chart of a talented team. There are tons of reasons they have been “overlooked” in the recruiting process.


  2. ASEF

    Kirby might be borrowing from Dabo here. Dabo always signs a couple of “glue guys,” usually lower rated. If the player has something exceptional to contribute (like McConkey’s footwork/short shuttle agility) plus the right personality to affect practices, work outs, classroom focus, whatever on guys around them, then maybe that can have more program impact than a more highly rated guy who is nonetheless 3rd string on a roster like Georgia’s.


  3. WSS

    Thanks for sharing this perspective. My assumption in the past was that we had the lower rated signees waiting in the wings until the blue chip 4&5 star recruits made a firm decision to go elsewhere. At that time we scooped them up. This perspective indicates that we possibly chose 3 star recruits over 4&5 star recruits. My guess is that it’s a combination of both situations.


  4. J.R. Reed and Eric Stokes have worked out pretty well…


    • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

      Not to mention Tae Crowder. If a few of these guys turn out like Tae, Eric and JR we are going to be okay.


    • dawgman3000

      Don’t forget about D’Andre Baker, Monty Rice, and Jordan Davis. They were all 3 stars coming out of HS.


    • practicaldawg

      But to an extent they are outliers due to the much greater pool of 3* talent. When UF fans proclaim its better to develop 3 star players than chase 5 stars, they are falling victim to the survivorship bias that makes it seem 3 stars have lots of upside due to the number of former 3* players in the NFL.

      To me the more interesting angle is whether Kirby’s recruiting analytics are able to exploit mis-rated players. Maybe Evans was not a true 5* based on Kirby’s analytics. And maybe he’s able to find some underrated 3* talent. I think Dabo is particularly good at the latter, especially when he convinces them to play 4 years.

      Essentially, the rating sites are analogous to bond rating agencies, and coaches are the portfolio managers trying to find mispriced assets (players).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rocketdawg

    Not to mention A LOT of these kids that are rated 4 and 5 stars early are the kids that attend all the camps. There are good players out there that don’t do the dog and pony at camps and therefore aren’t as highly rated as players who do. I trust what the coaching staff sees on film over the recruiting sites.


  6. Jim

    It’s an interesting perspective for sure. Can cut both ways though. Carson Beck did not have a very good Sr year, for example. As a long time commit did we consider cutting him loose? Doubtful given our need at the QB position


    • Mark

      Evidently Beck’s team lost a ton of talent after his junior year. So he didn’t have the same quality cast around him, which (at least partially) explains the drop-off his senior season.


    • Beck was an Elite 11. You don’t get invited to that little party without being talented. As others have mentioned, he transferred into Mandarin HS as a junior to be the final piece to a state title puzzle. The fact a lot of those player graduated had something to do with his senior year stats.

      Whether Beck checks the boxes for what Monken wants is another story.


  7. Go Dawgs!

    This makes a lot of sense to me. While there are some physical freaks of nature that you can just tell are going to have SEC bodies and talents when they’re freshmen or sophomores in high school, that’s not really the way most people develop physically. There’s a reason why most of the kids you see playing varsity in high school are juniors and seniors: they’re the most physically mature. Maybe a kid has only had a 3-star type of career leading into his senior season, but when he’s hitting 17 or 18 his body finally really hits a growth spurt or really fills out or maybe he finally “gets” what they’re trying to get him to do… maybe the recruiting services never caught up, but I’m sure I’ll be happy that the University of Georgia did if the kid continues to develop.


    • spur21

      The flip side is some kids reach manhood well before their peers – hence a man among boys. Then the other kids catch up and the man is suddenly not so intimidating.


      • Go Dawgs!

        That’s also a solid point. I’m sure there are some five stars out there who didn’t pan out because they were used to exploiting a size and strength advantage at lower levels that they suddenly no longer had once they got into big time college football.


  8. Bright Idea

    Maybe he’s signing a few more guys that will stay four years knowing they may be juniors before they challenge for a starting job.


    • Russ

      I’m thinking there may be a little bit of this in there as well. Sort of like the basketball team getting the guys just off the top of the list so that they stay and develop for 3-4 years, instead of leave early. It’s a tricky balance for sure.



    The girls all get prettier at closing time

    Liked by 1 person

  10. MGW

    You could bout put together a starting 22 with the late in the game/diamond in the rough/transfer guys Kirby’s recruited over the last 5 years. (presuming they were all here at the same time)

    It wouldn’t be a bad team at all.


  11. Anonymous

    I think the ability for the staff to identify these 3-star players late is really a function of the early signing period. They have most of the class wrapped up. They can then re-evaluate needs and the players available including their Senior film. They didn’t have that luxury when they had to continue recruiting all of their recruits until NSD in February.


  12. SittinOnTheTracks

    Former 3 stars you could name are Arron Rodgers, Dak Prescott and Matt Ryan. UGA’s Geno Atkins was a 3 star as well as the Chiefs Travis Kelce and San Francisco’s/Seattle DB Richard Sherman. Clemson’s Vic Beasley. You could make a Pro Bowl team out of the 3 stars in the league.
    These guys just didn’t jump off the paper as a given player on signing NLI’s. There is a point where character + attitude + ability means more than 247’s or the WWL evaluation of what makes up a player. CKS May have seen that attitudes in the locker room didn’t really add up to the aspirations of the team concept. I think losing Field’s set off a bunch of attitudes and evidently Kirby saw it before the Sugar Bowl and only those invested in the program made the trip. Still like to know the inside story on many of the what 12-14 that didn’t make the trip. Perception were that some good kids were left behind that worked hard. Everyone here fainted at the thought of the Dawgs in the Sugar with one paw tied behind them.
    Perhaps this evaluation is even more important than the coaching slots that changed drastically. We will see. Spring is around the corner but I’ll bet it’s gonna be more vanilla that the cookie dough we are expecting.


  13. Milledge Hall

    Not here to hijack the thread, Senator, but the Sentell article also hit the mark in that this 2020 class not only has high caliber athletes but high caliber young people who have parents and grandparents who keep them focused and grounded. I think that’s why there was a hard pass on some athletes during the process and a change in Kirby’s attitude to recruiting talent only.


  14. Macallanlover

    Some excellent comments/thoughts above, well done. I really like this approach by the staff and feel it i logical that more recent observations should carry the most weight. Fortunately, many of these players aren’t near the prima donnas the 5 stars are, so being the first offer may not not be as important as being the best offer.