ATHENS — Some might think that winning a national championship would have some grand impact on Georgia’s recruiting efforts. That they’d recruit even better now that they’ve shown proof of concept, that you can in fact win at Georgia.
But that didn’t happen with the 2023 recruiting cycle, the first full class to sign with Georgia post-championship. The Bulldogs sit with the No. 2 overall class, up last year from the No. 3 ranking but still in line with Georgia has consistently finished under Kirby Smart.
Georgia football recruiting rankings under Kirby Smart
- 2016: 6th
- 2017: 3rd
- 2018: 1st
- 2019: 2nd
- 2020: 1st
- 2021: 4th
- 2022: 3rd
- 2023: 2nd
Alabama has the No. 1 overall class by a healthy margin. The Crimson Tide landed six 5-star players, including two from Georgia’s home state. The Bulldogs conversely have just one player who ranks among the top 32 overall prospects per the On3 Consensus rankings. That would be 5-star pass rusher Damon Wilson, who signed with Georgia on Wednesday.
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So why wasn’t there some big recruiting bump? For Smart, he thinks it’s because the national championship really didn’t impact the type of players Georgia recruited.
“I don’t know if you can measure that,” Smart said. “I think it gets you in the conversation with more national guys, but there’s nobody I look at this list and say we wouldn’t have gotten had we not won it or we got them because we won it.”
Of Georgia’s 26 commitments and signees, only six of them come from the state of Georgia. That is down from the 2021 and 2022 recruiting cycles, but Georgia was forced to rely more on in-state talent in those cycles due to restrictions placed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was also a down year for recruits in Georgia, as there were just five top-100 overall recruits in the state for this cycle. The 2021 and 2022 cycle both had nine top-100 in-state recruits.
The Bulldogs still cleaned up when it comes to elite talent, landing 10 top-100 recruits in the 2023 cycle. Only Alabama has more. And the Bulldogs aren’t done yet, as they are still heavily involved with 5-star tight end prospect Duce Robinson and 4-star defensive lineman Jordan Hall. The latter will announce his commitment on Thursday afternoon.
Georgia has once again positioned itself to win another national championship, as the Bulldogs enter the College Football Playoff with a 13-0 record. Alabama on the other hand is getting ready to play Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.
Related: Georgia defenders share how they plan to ‘rattle’ Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud
Much like last season’s success having a limited impact on recruiting, Georgia players aren’t content to rely on past success. The members of this team want to carve out their own legacy, especially the 2022 signees who were not a part of last season’s title team.
“I feel like this year, coming off of a conference championship win we have worked harder than we did last year coming off of a loss,” wide receiver Kearis Jackson said. “It’s crazy because people may look at it as we’re complacent, we’re happy. It’s just another box we wanted to check, one of our goals. Our season is not complete yet. We still have goals that we want to reach. The Peach Bowl is the next thing we want to accomplish.”
When Jackson first arrived at Georgia, he did so with the Bulldogs fresh off their first College Football Playoff appearance. He wanted to work hard to uphold the new standard that had been set by the previous group of Bulldogs.
The new 2023 signees will walk into something even greater. One in which competing for national championships is the norm and not an anomaly.
And a great recruiting class is expected and not due to fluctuate based on the end results of the previous year.
“I‘m really fired up about this group. They are high character,” Smart said. “The one thing in the coaching business you better value now more than ever is high character, tough, hard-nosed football players that are coming here with an understanding that they’re committed to excellence in terms of classroom, competitiveness, toughness, loving football, and these guys understand that.”
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