Will Muschamp talks Kirby Smart, time together at Valdosta State
Count Kirby Smart among the continued believers in Will Muschamp and South Carolina.
The Georgia football coach, speaking at SEC Media Days on Tuesday, lavished praise on his program’s rival and personal friend, specifically complimenting Muschamp’s recruiting ability.
“The depth he’s been able to establish, he does a great job of getting quality players in there, and they’ve had several kids they’ve beat us on, whether in our state or their state,” Smart said. “They’re very relentless in their efforts to recruit.”
Smart has long been a public supporter of Muschamp, saying after the two teams met in 2017 that South Carolina would be “a force to be reckoned with” in the future and adding before 2018’s game that he had “a lot of respect“ for the Gamecocks.
Muschamp and Smart were teammates back at Georgia, and they coached together at Valdosta State, then at LSU under their mentor, Nick Saban. They’ve since squared off on opposite sides of the Iron Bowl, a national championship game and over the past three years at Georgia and South Carolina, all matchups won by the Bulldogs.
But Smart has called the 2017 clash between the two teams one of the most physical he’s had while at Georgia. And on the recruiting trail, Muschamp and USC have been able to pull off some upsets — Jamyest Williams and several Georgia natives have chosen Carolina over the Bulldogs over the past few years. Other star recruits such as Rick Sandidge and Zacch Pickens also considered Georgia before picking the Gamecocks.
On the field, the Gamecocks and Dawgs will renew their rivalry this season in Athens, Georgia, on Oct. 12. In that matchup, Smart indicated one player he’ll be extremely concerned with stopping is senior quarterback Jake Bentley
“(Bentley) impresses me. He’s a leader, he’s a guy that’s played. Anytime you’re playing a guy with that kind of experience, it’s very similar to (Georgia QB Jake Fromm), except he’s got one whole year on top of that, and they’ve got some good wideouts coming back with him,” Smart said.
Bentley, who was one of 30 signal-callers named to the Davey O’Brien National Award watch list on Tuesday, has a strong chance at breaking most of South Carolina’s passing records this season, and among the wideouts Smart mentioned, senior receiver Bryan Edwards could rewrite the program record book as well.
Muschamp, Bentley, Edwards and linebacker T.J. Brunson represent South Carolina at SEC Media Days on Wednesday afternoon.