HOOVER, Ala. — The ties make it natural that folks would ask Kirby Smart about Alabama and recruiting.
After all, he was a critical part of a very powerful machine for a long time. Meanwhile, he’s taken his expertise and applied it very well to his new position at UGA.
But naturally, reporters to ask about Alabama recruiting. On Tuesday, he artfully pivoted from his old employer to his new one.
“I really don’t make it about Alabama,” he said. “We are a top 20 U.S. public education (institution) … and that sells itself. You can get an unbelievable education, and we are 60 minutes from Atlanta, which is the hub of the South.”
Then this: “We are not going to struggle to recruit.”
He’s right. That has not been a problem, but it probably needs to be put in better perspective.
Over the last two recruiting cycles Georgia has joined Alabama and Ohio State as the group separating themselves from the rest of college football recruiting.
Only the Dawgs, Buckeyes and Tide have signed 14 Scout Top 100 players and 34 Scout Top 300 players in the two recruiting cycles since 2016.
Georgia has used its natural in-state resources to effectively provide a base and has successfully attacked out of the state to add several players who are already starters in the program.
Two-thirds of the high-level players in the Tide’s previous two classes (23 Scout Top 100 players; 39 Scout Top 300 players) have come from outside of Alabama. Texas, in particular, has been a pipeline for the Tide.
Meanwhile, Ohio State (19 Scout Top 100 players; 34 Scout Top 300 players) has attacked the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest to supplement an in-state talent base that’s not as strong as Georgia’s, but which is better than Bama’s. Twelve of Ohio State’s previous top 14 players in the previous two cycles are from somewhere other than Ohio.
While those three have gotten better results in the last two cycles than the rest of college football, others have still done well. USC, Michigan and LSU are recruiting at a high level. For all of the hubbub about Clemson’s and Miami’s recruiting efforts of late, Florida State has captured as many Top 100 players in the last two classes as the Tigers and the Canes combined. While Miami has turned it on big time this cycle, it must be noted that one recruiting class doesn’t make a program.
Still, Alabama and UGA appear to be content with a slower pace of taking commits than many other programs, specifically Ohio State. That is likely because of uncertainty heading into the new December signing day, which was mandated earlier this year by the NCAA.
The Buckeyes already have 12 Top 300 players and 7 Top 100 players in the 2018 class committed to them. Bama and UGA only have a combined three and five, respectively. Still, both the Tide and Bulldogs are waiting on a slew of prospects who could make their numbers jump quickly.
In other words, don’t weep for those two.
Consider that the Bulldogs are either considered a favorite or very serious competitor for the following Top 100 prospects: QB Justin Fields, OL Jamaree Salyer, QB Matt Corral, DB Tyreke Johnson, OL Trey Hill, RB James Cook and DL Adam Anderson.
It wouldn’t be outrageous to think the Bulldogs would sign three players in Scout’s Top 10, which has only happened seven times in modern recruiting history, and get at least seven Top 100 players in back-to-back seasons.
It can’t be a surprise that only Alabama and Ohio State have had back-to-back classes with seven or more Top 100 prospects in the last half decade.