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Kirby Smart addresses what recruits ask about regarding program success, NIL

IMG_0985by:Griffin McVeigh03/13/24


The final weekend in April has been quite lucrative for Kirby Smart in recent years. Georgia has been a popular program at the NFL Draft, especially following the two national championships. Plenty of Bulldogs will have their name called this year in Detroit, continuing to be a huge selling point in recruiting.

Not everybody seems too interested in player development, though. Smart says Georgia can use the recruiting tactic to the players who will listen. “A lot” of high school guys are now asking about NIL opportunities and looking to cash in.

“It’s a great sell to the kids that will listen to it,” Smart said on UGA having NFL Draft success. “There is a lot of them that want to ask about NIL. They don’t want to ask about what your NFL players have done. I think it’s much more important how you develop players than how much NIL you can give them.”

Former Alabama head coach Nick Saban had a similar message on Tuesday when speaking in Washington D.C. His wife, Miss Terry, pointed out how recruits have changed over the years, saying everything has been about money instead of personal and player development.

“Well, all the things that I believed in for all these years, 50 years of coaching, no longer exist in college athletics,” he said. “So it always was about developing players. It was always about helping people when you’re successful in life. My wife even said to me, we have all the recruits over on Sunday with their parents for breakfast. And she would always meet with the mothers and talk about how she was going to help and impact their sons and how they would be well taken care of.

“And she came to me, like right before our retirement and said, ‘Why are we doing this?’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘All they care about is how much you’re going to pay them.’”

Georgia recruiting has not slowed down since NIL was introduced in July 2021. The following three cycles have resulted in top-three classes, including No. 1 overall in 2024. Winning has certainly helped but Smart has still been able to attract the country’s best players to Athens.

But even when Georgia is producing multiple NFL draft picks a season, NIL is still a discussion point when recruiting. Coaches will continue to deal with this until some kind of resolution is determined, likely causing a headache around the country.