The upcoming portion of Georgia’s football schedule is far more opt-out row than murderers’ row.
Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are the next three tests for the No. 13 Bulldogs, and all three of those programs have been ravaged by players choosing to punt the remainder of this coronavirus-altered season. Gamecocks cornerbacks Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu announced their decisions to opt out Tuesday, with Mukuamu having intercepted three Jake Fromm passes in South Carolina’s 20-17 double-overtime upset of Georgia last season in Sanford Stadium.
Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart questioned some of these moves following Tuesday’s practice.
“I think it will be measured when they get to the next level,” Smart said. “Some pundit or critic would say, ‘That’s easy for you to say. They need to worry about their NFL careers,’ but I’ve learned that those NFL careers are not for long, especially for guys who aren’t first-rounders.
“If you’ve got a bona fide first-rounder, that’s a completely different subject, but that’s not the case in a lot of these opt-outs.”
“Our kids care about each other, and they want to win,” he said. “They want to have a productive season. At the end of the day, they want to improve their draft stock. How does it really look to opt out to train and not play? All of the general managers we talk to are going to talk about that.
“What are they working out for? We don’t know if there is going to be a combine or a pro day. What we know is that we play Mississippi State on Saturday, and that’s a showcase to go do what you can do.”
I’m just spitballing here, but what if kids who aren’t likely first round picks had some kind of real financial incentive to remain in school instead of being tempted by the bright lights of the NFL?