New UGA head coach Kirby Smart met with his new team on Sunday. He shared a clear example from his own playing career that shows how much he identifies with the challenges each of his new charges will be dealing with.
Smart was recruited by Ray Goff to play at UGA, but then saw a new coaching staff come in led by Jim Donnan after Goff was dismissed. That’s pretty similar to the transition from Mark Richt to his new staff.
“I talked to them about change,” Smart said. “I told them about — I guess it was 20 years ago — I sat in the same place they were. I had a new coach coming in and the uneasiness about having to prove yourself again and start over sometimes as an upperclassman is tough. I want to be here for them for that. We are going to challenge them. We are going to demand toughness and effort out of every person in every aspect of their life. We’re going to push them harder than they’ve ever been pushed.”
What’s the reason behind all that sweat equity?
“I think to be excellent they have to do that,” Smart said.
He told his new players about having a “commitment to excellence” on and off the field.
“Especially right now when they are taking their finals,” Smart said. “Making sure they stay committed to the classroom and finishing this season the right way with a chance to win 10 games which helps in recruiting. I spoke to those guys about doing the right things off the field and if they can continue to do that, then they can be successful.”
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.