Kirby Smart took the reins of the Georgia football program in December 2015. His first full recruiting class, in 2017, was ranked No. 3. His next 3? No. 1 in 2018, No. 3 in 2019 and what could be another No. 1 class in 2020.


No one can fault Smart for not being able to recruit alongside the best head coaches in the business. As National Signing Day approaches Wednesday, we look at who, and what, stood out in another wild recruiting cycle that ended with another big-time haul for the man headed into his 5th season in charge.

A Western flair: 5-star recruits Kelee Ringo and Darnell Washington pick Georgia

We all know the line from the classic movie Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come. Some fans might fault Smart for letting a few in-state recruits go elsewhere (i.e. Trevor Lawrence and others), but the fact that he’s pulling in players from out of state speaks to how he’s been able to sell the program.

“Out of state,” in the case of the 2020 class, doesn’t just pertain to Tennessee and the Carolinas. It means way, way, out of state, as in Arizona and Nevada.

Scottsdale, Arizona’s Kelee Ringo had every reason to move back to his native Pacific Northwest pick Oregon, part of a top 5 that included Alabama, Ohio State and Texas. But after official visits to Eugene and Athens, the nation’s top cornerback and No. 4 overall player rang the bell for Georgia at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4.

Smart was able to seal the deal another blue-chip prospect from the West just days prior. Coveted tight end Darnell Washington, ranked as one of the country’s top 25 players, announced his commitment at the Under All-American Game on Jan. 2 with the help of his 8-month-old daughter, Laila.

Jalen Carter: The heir apparent for Devonte Wyatt at defensive tackle?

With the signing of Jalen Carter, the Dawgs added a big piece to their class, and in more than one way: the 6-3, 301-pound 5-star defensive tackle, who chose Georgia over Alabama and Clemson, checks in as the No. 18 player in the nation and the No. 4 DT in the country. He’s also the 2nd-ranked recruit of the cycle for Georgia behind Kelee Ringo.

Devonte Wyatt’s return means that the senior will anchor the Dawgs’ defensive line in its 3-4 formation, but Carter will become a key part of the rotation for position coach Tray Scott and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning. (And, to add to the out-of-state theme, he’s from Florida.)

Broderick Jones spurned late Auburn overtures. Will he sign with Georgia?

The last thing Smart and new offensive line coach Matt Luke needed was a potential Day 1 starter in the front 5 slip away to an SEC rival. Atlanta-area tackle Broderick Jones pledged to the Dawgs in April 2018, but he held off making his commitment official during the Early Signing Period in favor of making his 3 official visits. You couldn’t fault Georgia fans for being worried after the turnover along the offensive line, including the departure of former position coach Sam Pittman as he was named head coach at Arkansas.

After an official visit to Arkansas and then Georgia, Jones canceled a planned visit to Auburn, a program that made up ground in recent weeks. But there’s still Pittman and Arkansas to contend with. Who will he pick Wednesday? The Razorbacks or Bulldogs?

The curious case of Zachary Evans, once a Georgia signee … until he wasn’t

The recruitment of Zach Evans has had so many twists and turns that no one really knows what he’s going to do next.

Evans started by releasing a top 5 that included Georgia and a pair of teams that weren’t really actively recruiting him, while leaving out the big schools in his own state of Texas. That was followed by a delay of his decision date, only to spurn presumed front-runner LSU and eventually sign with Georgia during the Early Signing Period. He was supposed to announce that at the Under Armour All-American Game, but he changed his mind and decided to delay an announcement once more. Georgia released him from his LOI.

Did we mention the cell phone violation that saw him suspended for the state championship game and another team rules violation that benched him for 2 regular-season games?

In the end, because he can’t sign another LOI, nothing between him and the school of his choice will be binding. As for Georgia? It has 4-star running backs Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton in the fold, so the Dawgs should be OK.