UGA’s new football coach created a buzz on Thursday by using a helicopter to recruit in the Atlanta area.
Kirby Smart, the new man in charge of the Bulldogs, looked like a rock star by landing in a helicopter at the high school of Derrick Brown, the state of Georgia’s No. 1 prospect. Smart was accompanied by UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
“It was pretty neat to watch,” said Chad Longe, the athletics director at Lanier High School in Gwinnett County. “They circled around the field a couple of times in the helicopter. They landed, and they were greeted by our football coaches. Then they headed into the field house to meet with Derrick.”
“It was neat thing to see. It was good for Derrick. It was good for Georgia. And it sort of brings attention to our high school as well. We’ve got a lot of great things happening at Lanier High School.”
It was a dramatic arrival for Smart, who was making his final sales pitch with Brown, the 5-star defensive tackle who was projected to sign with UGA by 100% of recruiting analysts before the Bulldogs changed head coaches last month. On Thursday morning, a report surfaced that Brown has narrowed down to a list of three top SEC schools that does not include the Bulldogs.
Back to the helicopter: UGA is located only 50 miles away from Lanier. Smart brought up the idea earlier this week with Lanier officials, who cleared it with the county office.
It wasn’t Smart’s only recruiting stop of the day. He was expected at Norcross High School after lunch to review several prospects, including junior defensive end Robert Beal (committed to Notre Dame). Smart was also scheduled to be at a coaching clinic in downtown Atlanta later in the day.
At Lanier, Smart definitely made an impression with his mode of transportation.
“There have been a lot of college coaches in and out of here all year long to see Derrick and some of our other students,” Longe said. “We’re a new high school, only six years old … but this is probably the most unique arrival that we’ve had for Derrick.”
“But this isn’t my first rodeo with that,” Longe said with a laugh. “I was a teacher at North Gwinnett High School when (then-Tennessee coach) Lane Kiffin flew in a helicopter to see Ja’Wuan James (who now plays for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins).”
UPDATE: Smart tweeted out video from the helicopter:
— Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) January 28, 2016