Kirby Smart on Trevor Etienne, Recruiting Strategies, and the New Additions to His Coaching Staff

Florida running back Trevor Etienne (7) looks for running room against Georgia during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Sometimes kids don’t make the best decisions. The older you get, sometimes the tougher the consequences are for your mistakes. He’s not gonna let this mistake define him. He’s embarrassed. He’s upset, he’s know he’s made a mistake. It’s a teaching moment and we hope he gets better from it. You know, in addition to our university discipline process, we’ve got all the stuff we deal with inside house. And he’ll, you know, be with those same details. He’ll be under the same rules that we have in house as well as the university discipline. So disappointed in his decision making, but he is a good kid.

Me personally, I just got one of the toughest Rd. schedules in the country. I’d like to see it flipped where I got the opportunity for our fan base to have probably the best home schedule ever in Georgia history. You start changing this…the model. I don’t get the flip of the model. They presented us multitude of opportunities. The most continuity is in doing this for two. Let’s see what it’s like. Let’s see how things play out. Let’s see what the CFP becomes, how many teams are going to be in the playoffs. Does that designate us to go to 9? Does television have something to do with that? There’s a lot of unanswered questions.

As far as KJ’s recruitment. I don’t see kids as committed to other places. I mean, they’re not, they’re not signed. We recruit good football players, we evaluate every player the same whether they’re committed or not. If there’s interest from them and there’s conversation from them and there’s visits or they come to your campus, then you just be very consistent. And we were very consistent with KJ the…the recruitment never stopped. And I told him that from the day he committed to the day that he came to us, we were not going to stop recruiting because. We think he’s a great kid from a great family and are really, really good football player.

They both had great energy. They got great relationships with their players. They’re really good recruiters, but they’re passionate and they have good energy on the field. Everything that we heard about them and the things we wanted them to come into our program for, they’re here for and I’m really proud of of both those guys and how they’ve transitioned thus far.

About the NIL, you know we’ve done studies and look, we have more kids with vehicles now than we probably ever have. I can’t really say to, you know, the style of vehicles you could probably make an easy assumption that with more money they have an opportunity to have nicer cars, but just the number of players with vehicles is higher, but that’s not any excuse for the ability to speed. Just means we have more opportunities to have traffic citations, which we don’t want.

HOW TO HANDLE OFF FIELD EVENTS: As everybody in the country shares ideas. We talked about it at SC meetings. We talk about it all the time across the country. When I meet with other staff, you know, what do you do in special teams? What do you do in offense and defense? What do you do? What do you do off the field? I think that’s one of the areas that we’ve really tried to target. I think we do it better than anybody in the country. I can only speak for my university.

We meet with the NFL personnel. It was around 80% of their kickoffs were touch backs and a lot of the NFL, people and personnel felt that special teams were becoming irrelevant in their game. Because the punters are elite hang time and distance, kickers are elite kicking off. If that’s not part of the game, then why are we doing it? OK and how do we do it? Make it part of the game, but yet also make it safer. It’s slowly getting taken out of our game. If you want to develop your roster, you need to have special teams to develop it. We feel the same way I developed my roster through special teams. The guys last year that started on all the units, we’ll probably start at a position this year. So you need those plays to be part of it, but you need them to be safe.

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