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Smoke Bouie shows why Kirby Smart is always recruiting for Georgia football
If you want to know why Kirby Smart and the Georgia football program continue to recruit players who are committed to other programs, look at what is going on in the transfer portal.
This phenomenon isn’t unique to just Georgia, as LSU landed wide receiver Aaron Anderson out of the transfer portal on Sunday. He was the No. 35 player in the 2022 recruiting cycle, but ended up redshirting this past season at Alabama. Anderson’s runner-up in his recruitment was LSU and now the Tigers have added a dynamic receiver to their roster.
Smart spoke recently about what Georgia looks for in players from the transfer portal. And high school recruiting plays a significant part in informing what Georgia might be getting in a transfer prospect.
“We called and recruited several guys that fit our criteria,” Smart said. “Number one, need. Number two, culture. Number three, we knew something about them out of high school. They’d been on our campus.”
Related: Kirby Smart lays out what Georgia football looks for in transfer portal
The Georgia head coach has often explained that the reason the Bulldogs didn’t take a player out of the transfer portal was not some intentional choice. It was more a matter of circumstance last year, rather than completely ignoring the roster-building tool.
This year has already shown that Georgia si going to be active in the transfer portal. While the Bulldogs have yet to add anyone, they’ve hosted multiple players at this point. Three of them — Bouye, Mississippi State’s RaRa Thomas and Missouri’s Dominic Lovett — came from fellow SEC schools.
While the SEC experience no doubt helps prepare one for Georgia, it’s not a guarantee a transfer player fits into the Georgia culture. Not every transfer ends up being like Derion Kendrick, who started every game in his time at Georgia.
“You have to be smart what you bring into your program, especially if you want to keep a dynamic, the culture we like to keep,” Smart said.
With there being some level of risk in taking a player out of the transfer portal, Smart has leaned even more into recruiting players out of high school.
“That’s why to me it’s so critical now in recruiting to evaluate more players because you may get the guy on rebound, and you’d better know a better history than just what somebody calls and tells you about him,” Smart said earlier in December. “I want to know when they came on the visit. I want to know when we talked to them. I want to know when they came to our camp.
“I’m a lot more likely to take a kid that I think is wired the right way even though he’s coming from the portal, but I’d better have known about him coming out of high school.”
For as well as Georgia recruits, it doesn’t land every top target it goes after. Consider that in the 2023 recruiting cycle, the two 5-star in-state prospects are both headed to Alabama. Safety Caleb Downs and running back Justice Haynes both committed to Alabama over the summer, yet Georgia never stopped recruiting either player. The pair both visited Georgia over the fall and the Bulldogs continued to try and build a relationship with the two talented players.
Neither will end up at Georgia to start their college careers. But the transfer portal has shown us time and time again that nothing in college football is permanent. You can’t afford to ignore a recruit if at first they don’t pick you.
Smart knows that better than anybody at this point.
Bouie may still end up playing somewhere else, as he’s a talented player with options. But given the investment Georgia made in building a relationship with Bouie as a recruit, the Bulldogs are well-positioned to add a talented player to their roster.
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