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Georgia Football Didn't See a National League Recruiting Increase, and Kirby Smart Knows Why

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ATHENS — Some might think that winning a national championship would have a big impact on Georgia’s recruiting efforts. That they would recruit even better now that they’ve shown the proof of concept, that you can actually win in Georgia.

But that didn’t happen with the 2023 recruiting cycle, the first full cohort to sign with post-championship Georgia. The Bulldogs are in 2nd overall in the class, up from last year from 3rd, but still in line with Georgia, who 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 #1 overall class by a healthy margin. The Crimson Tide has won six 5-Star players, including two from their home state of Georgia. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, only have one player who ranks in the top 32 overall prospects according to On3 Consensus rankings. That would be 5-star pass rusher Damon Wilson, who signed with Georgia on Wednesday.

Related: Georgia Football Winners and Losers in the 2023 Early Signing Period

So why hasn’t there been a huge increase in recruitment? For Smart, he thinks it’s because the national championship hasn’t really affected the type of players Georgia has recruited.

“I don’t know if you can measure that,” Smart said. “I think that puts you in the conversation with more national guys, but there’s no one that I look at this list and say we wouldn’t have made it if we hadn’t won or we won them because we won.”

Of the 26 pledges and signatories from Georgia, only six of them come from the state of Georgia. This is down from the 2021 and 2022 recruiting cycles, but Georgia has been forced to rely more on in-state talent in those cycles due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was also a bad year for recruits in Georgia, as there were only five of the top 100 overall recruits in the state for this cycle. The 2021 and 2022 cycles had nine of the top 100 recruits in the state.

The Bulldogs are still clean when it comes to elite talent, garnering 10 of the 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 their engagement on Thursday afternoon.

Georgia once again positioned itself to win another national championship as the Bulldogs entered the College Football Playoff with a 13-0 record. Alabama, on the other hand, is gearing up to play Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.

Related: Georgia defenders share how they plan to ‘shake up’ Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud

Just as last season’s success had a limited impact on recruiting, Georgia players are not content to rely on past success. Members of this team want to leave their own legacy, especially the 2022 signings who weren’t part of last season’s winning team.

“I feel like this year, coming off a conference championship win, we worked harder than last year, coming off a loss,” said wide receiver Kearis Jackson. “It’s crazy because people can look at it like we’re complacent, like we’re happy. It’s just another box that we wanted to check, one of our goals. Our season is not yet complete. We still have goals we want to achieve. The Peach Bowl is the next thing we want to accomplish.”

When Jackson first arrived in Georgia, he did so with the Bulldogs fresh from their first ever College Football Playoff appearance. He wanted to work hard to maintain the new standard set by the previous group of Bulldogs.

New 2023 signatories will step into something even bigger. One where playing at national championships is the norm rather than an anomaly.

And a large recruitment group is expected and should not fluctuate depending on the final results of the previous year.

“I’m really excited about this group. They are of high character,” Smart said. “The one thing in the coaching business that you value more than ever is high character, tough, strong-willed football players who are coming here with the understanding that they are committed to excellence in terms of classroom, competitiveness, endurance , love football, and these guys understand that.”

Kirby Smart Discusses Lack of National Championship Recruiting for Georgia

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