Kirby Smart is taking UGA football recruiting to another level with the first-ever “Freshman Day.”
He’s been a head coach for less than four months, but Kirby Smart has already revolutionized UGA football recruiting.
Last week, the headline Smart served up was the fact he offered nine scholarships to St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a powerhouse program in south Florida.
UGA has never landed a signee from St. Thomas Aquinas in the modern recruiting era, which pretty much sums up Mark Richt’s tenure with the Bulldogs (2001-2015).
The latest haymaker Smart has thrown comes in the form of the program’s first ever “Freshman Day,” an event that will host the state of Georgia’s top-50 freshmen in Athens, Ga. on Saturday.
According to Dawg Nation, the idea originally spawned from former Grayson High School coach Kenyatta Watson, whose son is among those class of 2019 standouts.
“The general consensus among these families and players has been that UGA waits too late to offer them,” Watson said.
If that’s the case, and the Bulldogs have been dishing out offers much later than they should have been, then this innovative move by Smart should send a tidal wave over recruiting trail.
In Richt’s last three completed recruiting cycles (he was fired in November), UGA landed 3.2 percent of the in-state prospects.
To play devil’s advocate, 51 percent of the instate signees to commit to UGA were graded with at least four stars. So the notion the Bulldogs can’t hang onto players in their own backyard isn’t necessarily true.
Still, names like Deshaun Watson, Raekwon McMillan and Robert Nkemdiche leaving the Peach State bolster notions of UGA’s old guard being too passive on the recruiting trail.
When considering the fact the Bulldogs finished with the No. 9 class in the 2016 cycle — amid a coaching change — Smart’s “Freshman Day” could produce spikes in interest from blue-chip recruits from the Peach State.
When Kenyatta Watson told the UGA head coach about his idea, Smart labeled it “ingenious and unbelievable” – more than a fair description of the event.
Just like when Smart tried to plant a black and red flag in south Florida last week, Watson believes UGA can soar to new heights by doing the same within state borders.
“If Kirby builds a fence around Metro Atlanta, then Georgia will win national championships,” Watson said. “No question.”
It won’t be long before other schools follow this model.
With the help of Watson, UGA is changing the conversation. This “Freshman Day” could be the forward pass of college football recruiting.
Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.
MORE: UGA Football Recruiting Update As Of March 16, 2016