Playing TCU won't enhance Georgia's Lone Star recruiting efforts

Georgia first-year football coach Kirby Smart has assembled a crop of commitments for 2017 that ranks third nationally behind Alabama and Ohio State, and it includes one player from Texas.

Georgia's upcoming Liberty Bowl against TCU gives the Bulldogs a rare opportunity to play a team from Texas, but it won't increase their efforts to recruit the Lone Star State.

Starting quarterback Jacob Eason came to Georgia from Lake Stevens, Wash., while starting right tackle Greg Pyke hails from Baltimore, but the Bulldogs will head to Memphis without a single Texan on scholarship.

"I look at Texas as very fertile with great high school football," Georgia first-year coach Kirby Smart said. "I would love to recruit there, but obviously we can't make hay that far away from home. When we have interest expressed, then we go and seek out.

"Historically, there have been some really good players here at Georgia from Texas."

Current Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford signed with Georgia in 2006 as a five-star prospect out of Dallas and led the Bulldogs to a No. 2 ranking at the end of his sophomore season. Stafford was the top overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft.

Tailback Rodney Hampton signed with coach Vince Dooley's Bulldogs out of Houston in 1987 and rushed for 1,059 yards during coach Ray Goff's first year in 1989. Hampton went on to produce five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the New York Giants.

Georgia only signed two prep players from Texas during the 15-year Mark Richt coaching era, Stafford and Garland defensive lineman Dale Dixson in 2002, but the Bulldogs do have a 2017 commitment from Houston four-star tailback Toneil Carter. They also have nonbinding pledges from five-star tackle Isaiah Wilson of Brooklyn, N.Y., and four-star tailback D'Andre Swift of Philadelphia in a collection that 247Sports.com currently ranks third nationally behind Alabama and Ohio State.

"I think the more kids travel and the way social media is with these kids talking across the states and all, you'll get more of this," Smart said, "but we're not going to make a habit of going that far away."

TCU is just the third Texas school Georgia will have faced in 15 seasons. The Bulldogs defeated Texas A&M 44-20 in the Independence Bowl following the 2009 season and downed North Texas 45-21 during the 2013 regular season.

Smart admits the Southeastern Conference adding Texas A&M before the 2012 season made that state more accessible, with Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts and defensive backs Tony Brown and Deionte Thompson, Arkansas tailbacks Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley, LSU safety Jamal Adams, and Ole Miss receivers Quincy Adeboyejo and DaMarkus Lodge representing several of the talented Texans in the league.

"All the kids out there get to see the SEC Network," Smart said, "but obviously it's a little better for the SEC West teams."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.