Looks like the Mark Richt era isn’t quite over in Athens.
Despite being fired at the end of the regular season, Richt will attend Saturday’s UGA Senior Gala after being invited to do so by the senior class. This is normally an event attended by players and recruits alike, but this year the recruits will steer clear as Richt is now Miami’s head coach.
Instead of meeting potential future teammates at the banquet, the recruits visiting Athens this weekend will meet new coach Kirby Smart at a separate function. Star quarterback Jacob Eason from Lake Stevens (Wash.) is among those visiting Georgia this weekend, giving Smart a chance to keep hold of UGA’s most prized recruit from the 2016 class. Eason visited Washington this week and has indicated Florida has snuck back into the conversation after Richt’s firing, but he still made the trip to Georgia this weekend.
In addition to Eason, Georgia will be hosting elite offensive linemen Ben Cleveland of Stephens County (Toccoa, Ga.), Willie Allen of John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, La.) and Chris Barnes of Lee County (Leesburg, Ga.) this weekend. Cleveland was the first player that Smart visited with hours of getting the job and he reaffirmed his commitment to the Bulldogs.
Smart’s ability to secure the signings of Eason and his trio of personal protectors will go a long way in deciding the success of his first offseason in Athens. How successful he’ll be in that endeavor is hard to say given the long shadow Richt will be casting over campus Saturday night.