ATLANTA – Head coach Kirby Smart touched on many different topics during his time Wednesday at the College Football Hall of Fame.
You’ve already read a lot today on UGASports, but Smart had plenty more to share as he made the rounds.
Mims working to earn a role
Smart was asked about the status of the offensive lineman Amarius Mimswho put his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal and actually visited Florida State before electing to return.
“He’s done a tremendous job. He’s victim to what every kid is—opportunity vs. grinding it out, fighting it out and working his way up,” Smart said. “He was doing really well in the spring and then he had an injury, and from practice seven or eight on and that was tough. That missed time affected his ability to go out there and fight for playing time.”
Apparently, Mims has been serious about earning that playing time since his return.
“He’s had a tremendous work ethic since returning, he’s been really positive since returning,” Smart said. “He’s still athletically gifted and he seems to have a better grasp of what we’re doing offensively. The biggest thing with him is staying healthy.”
Smart, Lanning staying engaged
Georgia and Oregon will kick off just over a month right across the street at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
But even with the game drawing near, that hasn’t kept Smart and Ducks coach Dan Lanning from keeping the phone lines burning between the two.
“I’ve had a lot of communication with Dan, and it’s more gratitude both ways. He had some questions as a first-time head coach. Same questions I would have had. And we shared ideas and philosophies, and will continue to do so,” Smart said. “We’re not sitting there asking each other what plays we’re going to run. We’re talking about over 10,000 feet, overriding themes of how do you think it’s best to do this, or how do you approach this with your team. And I think all good coaches talk to other people.”
No transfers, but not for a lack of trying
Georgia was the only FBS team not to dip into the transfer portal to augment its current roster, but it was not for a lack of trying.
“There were several guys that we thought made our roster better that we just lost out on. “Positions we needed, we just didn’t win,” Smart said. “But we weren’t just going to take one. We didn’t say, ‘We don’t want to be the only team that didn’t take one. People called us and were begging to come, but we didn’t think it was a fit because we had depth at that position. The positions we needed the most, we didn’t necessarily win out at.”
Smart said he wasn’t going to sign a transfer for the sake of signing one.
“We’re going to go with what we have as opposed to taking someone who’s not a fit,” Smart said. “Those positions are so important and so critical to fit, because if they come in and don’t fit, you’re in a precious situation where you could destroy your team chemistry.”
Smart was asked what positions he was looking for.
“Well, I think it’s obvious. You’re never going to turn down an elite player. When there’s an elite player in the portal, we want to be able to go get them if they can help us,” Smart said. “There’s no one position where we have to go have a guy here because we have it at all positions. I’m not looking to sign a tight end if that’s what you’re asking.”
No white uniforms in games—yet
If you follow Georgia on social media, you’ve seen recruits posing in different colored jerseys and uniforms. That includes a white uniform, that seems to have grown in popularity. So, could we see them in the future?
“Well, I think it’s pretty obvious what the reason is for having them. I mean, you do it because you want the guys to be excited about changing uniforms and taking pictures,” Smart said. “They want different looks. Oregon’s kind of been the team to go out with five or six uniforms. To say it would never happen would be foolish. I don’t think never is in the vocabulary for anything.”
So, when could it happen?
“We’re open to looking at different things and exploring different options,” Smart said. “But it’s not imminent.”
Expectations laid out for Arik Gilbert
Smart said he’s pleased with the tight end’s work Aric Gilbert continues to put in. However, there’s more to do.
“I expect him to give us an effort every day. When you give an A-grade effort, and you have the talent he has, it’s a great combination. He’s a tremendous athlete,” Smart said. “He’s had to do some extra conditioning. He was a little heavy for the spring. He’s worked really hard on bringing that down. He had a really good year academically, which was a big hurdle. He had to focus on his academics upon coming to us from LSU.”
But so far, so good.
Gilbert’s two-touchdown effort in the G-Day scrimmage offered a glimpse of what he could potentially bring alongside Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington.
“He got a great opportunity this spring. People forget Darnell and Brock were both out. The opportunity he got, he seized that opportunity to grow and develop,” Smart said. “He will have to continue to do that to be a major contributor for us. He’s bought into doing that, being a team player. There’s a lot more to being a tight end than just catching the ball. He’s bought into that.”
Michael Williams’ work ethic stands out
Fans and media always want to know about the newcomers, typically freshmen who may contribute sooner than later.
If work ethic is one of the requirements, defensive lineman Michael Williams have a chance.
“Yeah, the No. 1 thing that stands out about him is his work ethic. You never hear anything about him academically. I look out my window, and I see him out there doing extra after every practice,” Smart said. “I left work the other day on a Sunday, and he’s out there hitting a sled on Sunday. When you have a freshman that’s out there on Sunday on his own, on turf, 115 degrees out there, he’s out there striking a sled, something special. He’s talented. I’m excited for him. I can’t say what his role is going to be right now, because I don’t know fully which way we’ll use him, where we’ll play him.”
How fast is Stetson Bennett?
Running the football is part of Stetson Bennett’s game. That obviously comes as no surprise.
But how fast is he?
“I can beat a lot of dudes. Ladd’s (McConkey) got me, Ladd’s good. I might have Dan (Jackson) though,” Bennett said. “I don’t know. We haven’t really raced.”
Then again, there’s no need for that in Bennett’s eyes.
“God, I remember running against Travon (Walker) last year though. That was embarrassing to think of. To be my size, I think I’m pretty quick, running. Looking to my right and seeing 6-foot-6-inches, 270 pounds keeping up with me and I thought, ‘Good Lord, man, who are you?’” Bennett said. “There’s a bunch of guys like that on the team, too. The sprints will make conditioning a little easier. We’ll point and be like, ‘I got you right here, let’s race,’ just to make it a little more competitive and fun.”