Georgia Football

Packing Sanford Would Give UGA Another Recruiting Edge

April 14, 2018
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ATHENS - To truly get the attention of teenagers you need to outdo your foes - any maybe yourself. 

That’s why Kirby Smart is correct to push fans to have another 93,000-day spring game in Athens on Saturday. 

Frankly, this isn't as trivial as it may seem, and it is one of the few times fans can really effect the program. 

Georgia’s recruiting rivals around the South, many of which have already held their annual spring games, have struggled to fill their stadiums to capacity. Most of them are not bothering seating folks in the upper deck… there aren't enough people to bother opening it up. 

And while Georgia is, at this moment, consider to have the consensus No. 2 recruiting ranking in the country, having more fans in Sanford Stadium than others have will have an effect of prospects. 

Why?

Because they compare. Think of recruits as grocery store shoppers looking for what to buy. There are a lot of options down every aisle, but one that’s full of more products will get more attention than the one that looks like Soviet-era shopping. Having done this for nearly two decades, atmosphere in stadiums completely makes a difference. It used to not make a difference, but it does now. 

That’s why is was hard not to notice the lack of fans watching during spring games at Clemson, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Auburn, Oklahoma and Florida. 

None of those schools announced a crowd over 60,000 for their spring scrimmages. 

(It was hard not to notice that ESPN’s Brock Huard repeatedly said that Clemson replaced Deshaun Watson after his Heisman season. Chris Fowler added that Furman is “Clemson’s oldest rival. SMH. Goodness.)

That mistake and curious use of the word “rival” not withstanding, Georgia has a chance to win the perception war in recruiting. We know what this program can do on the field - more than 100 million watched that in 2017. Those of us who cover the team, are in the program or buy tickets for the Bulldogs know how Georgia fans travelled. The truth is that UGA was only outnumbered twice (at Tennessee and at Auburn) in 15 games last fall. 

I bet no one else in college football only faced a truly hostile crowd twice.

But teenage boys, having been one a few decades ago, typically only think about the here and now. Most of the guys Georgia is recruiting are taking trips to Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn and Florida. Certainly they will also go to Tennessee and Alabama at some time soon. Those two programs hold their spring games next weekend as well. 

After visits, social media lights up with how much they love whichever school they were just at. But its rare to truly separate yourself as a program in one day, and that’s what Kirby is shooting for. 

Stacking Sanford Stadium with another 93,000 on Saturday will be a bold statement for this program. It simply says that football matters so much that we are willing to sit in the upper deck - in the sun no less - to watch a practice. 

Hitting the 93,000 goal again would allow Kirby and company to continue their PR blitz on social media. “Come here… where else are you going to practice in front of 93,000 fans?”

The answer might be only two other places - Alabama and Ohio State… the Dawgs’ chief rivals in the national recruiting game of late. 

Kirby isn’t always right, but he’s dead on here. Let’s see if he can persuade fans as well as he can persuade recruits. My bet is that he will.

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