Georgia coach Kirby Smart yells during spring practice in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

Georgia makes Kirby Smart highest-paid football coach at public school

Georgia is making Kirby Smart the highest-paid college football coach at a public school under a new contract announced Thursday.

Smart, who led the Bulldogs to national championships in 2021 and 2022, agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2033 that will pay him a yearly salary of $13 million — a $1.75 million annual raise — and bonuses up to $1.55 million.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is due to make $11.5 million in 2024, according to reports.

Smart, 48, is 94-16 in eight seasons at his alma mater, including 13-1 last season when a loss to Alabama for the Southeastern Conference championship kept the defending champion Bulldogs out of the College Football Playoff. Instead, Georgia played in the Orange Bowl, defeating Florida State to raise its mark to 9-2 in bowl games under Smart.

He signed a 10-year contract in 2021 that totaled $112.5 million — at the time the most lucrative deal. However, Swinney and Alabama’s Nick Saban — who retired after last season — inked new contracts that surpassed the annual figure.

Smart’s new compensation was approved Thursday afternoon by an executive committee of the Georgia Athletic Association’s board of directors.

Athletic director Josh Brooks also received a pay increase to $1.275 million annually with a contract extension to 2030. Hired in January 2021, Brooks was making $1.025 million annually with yearly increases of $100,000.

–Field Level Media

Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada (5) throws a pass against Arizona during the third quarter at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Nov. 25, 2023.

QB Jaden Rashada transferring to Georgia

Former Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada has decided to transfer to Georgia.

He announced his transfer Thursday on Instagram with a photo of himself in a Georgia uniform and the message, “Compete with the BEST.”

Rashada, from Pittsburg, Calif., will have four years of eligibility remaining. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 6 quarterback in the 2023 class.

He initially was set to enroll at Florida in 2023 but when his $13 million name, image and likeness deal with the school’s collective went awry, he landed at Arizona State. His father, Harlen, played for the Sun Devils from 1992-94.

The younger Rashada announced plans to transfer last week.

As a freshman, he appeared in three games, passing for 485 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. He missed spring practice at Arizona State because of thumb surgery.

At Georgia, Rashada will join a quarterback room that includes incumbent starter Carson Beck, who led the Bulldogs to a 13-1 finish in 2023, and Gunner Stockton, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 7 QB in the 2022 class.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Berkeley, California, USA; USC Trojans defensive lineman Bear Alexander (90) gestures during the third quarter against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: USC DT Bear Alexander to re-enter transfer portal

Defensive tackle Bear Alexander plans to enter the transfer portal after one season with Southern California, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

A coveted interior defender, Alexander is ranked the No. 1 defensive tackle in the transfer portal this offseason by 247 Sports. He had 47 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 2023.

Alexander was at USC’s spring practice on Tuesday before news of his imminent departure leaked.

Wisconsin hired USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, leading to speculation Alexander could join the Badgers when the transfer portal officially is open on April 15.

But the Texas native is thought to be considering joining the overhauled Texas A&M defense.

The former five-star Georgia recruit’s next stop will be his eighth program in seven years dating to his high school days. He played for the Bulldogs as a freshman before leaving for USC.

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A detailed view of Southern California Trojans helmet during Pac-12 Media Day at Novo Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC flips 5-star Georgia commit Justus Terry, adds to 2025 class

Southern California landed commitments from two prized 2025 defensive line prospects on Sunday.

Five-star Justus Terry, who committed to his home-state Georgia on Jan. 16, 2023, flipped his allegiance to USC. Also selecting the Trojans on Sunday was four-star recruit Isaiah Gibson.

Terry is ranked as the nation’s No. 2 defensive lineman by the 247Sports composite. Gibson is slotted as the No. 8 edge rusher.

Coach Lincoln Riley’s 2025 class now has three commits, with Julian Lewis — the No. 4-ranked quarterback — the other. All three are from Georgia.

Terry, from Manchester, Ga., visited Los Angeles this weekend. He told 247Sports that his decision to decommit from Georgia was a “no-brainer,” citing both coaching and USC’s business school among his reasons.

“Coming from a small town, I wanted to expand my life as much as possible, and I felt like USC is the right place to do that,” he said.

–Field Level Media

Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers (19) celebrates a touchdown with offensive lineman Amarius Mims (65) against the TCU Horned Frogs during the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia draws NFL evaluators in droves for pro day

All 32 teams were represented at the annual Georgia Pro Day in Athens, Ga., with evaluators in town for a close-up with more than a dozen Bulldogs prospects expected to be under consideration during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Omar Khan, Tennessee Titans head coach Brian Callahan and general manager Ran Carthon and Las Vegas Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce were among the pro football dignitaries on the field on the first day of the NFL league year on Wednesday.

Several NFL teams had larger contingents on hand. The Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals sent multiple scouts and position coaches.

Eight total prospects produced by the Bulldogs were selected in the first round the past two years, including No. 1 pick Travon Walker to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022 and defensive tackle Jalen Carter, the ninth pick in the 2023 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Georgia has produced six top-10 draft picks since 2015 (running back Todd Gurley, Rams) and Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers is projected as a potential top-10 pick in April.

Bowers, offensive tackle Amarius Mims, wide receiver Ladd McConkey, cornerback Kamari Lassiter, center Sedrick Van Pran, safeties Tykee Smith and Javon Bullard and running back Kendall Milton are all expected to be drafted by the fourth round of the 2024 draft.

Fifteen total Georgia prospects were selected in the 2022 and 2023 drafts.

–Field Level Media

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of a NCAA college football game against UAB in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.

Georgia TE Brock Bowers could delay 40, workout to pro day

INDIANAPOLIS — Georgia tight end Brock Bowers unquestionably is expected to run into the NFL as a first-round pick, but he’s leaning toward staying on the sideline during the NFL Scouting Combine.

The All-American projected as a top-10 draft pick, Bowers plans to make a decision on participating in on-field workouts and athletic testing with his position group before they take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday.

“We’ll see. If not tomorrow, definitely on Pro Day,” Bowers said Thursday morning. “We’ll see how I’m feeling tomorrow. Just a personal fit.”

The first back-to-back Mackey Award Winner (2022, 2023) given to the top tight end in college football, Bowers had 31 touchdowns (five rushing) in three seasons at Georgia. In 40 career games, he hauled in 175 receptions for 2,538 yards.

Former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski is the player Bowers said he grew up watching most. He also studied film of dozens of NFL tight ends during his time at Georgia, where he lined up in the slot, as a traditional tight end and even in the backfield as a running back.

“I loved watching Gronk. He’s kind of like a huge role model for me looking at him growing up. And watching (George) Kittle and (Travis) Kelce,” he said.

If Bowers keeps scouts and general managers waiting for his 40 time and position workout that most expect to be stellar, he’s aware the league might return the favor on draft night. Not out of spite, but Bowers can expect to be monitoring his phone as the pecking order is sorted out at quarterback and wide receiver before he’s selected.

Even so, when he goes on draft night isn’t as vital to Bowers as where he winds up.

“I just want to go to a place I’m wanted and be used and hopefully have a good rookie season,” Bowers said.

During what is a return trip to Indianapolis and the stadium where Georgia won the national title by beating Alabama in 2022, Bowers underwent multiple X-rays and MRI exams that team medical staffs will read to sign off on recovery from previous injuries. Bowers missed a month of the 2023 season recovering from ankle surgery but said he’s fully healthy.

With uncertainty around when he could be drafted, Bowers said he already met with at least 15 teams, recalling formal interviews took place with the Bears, Bengals, Broncos, Colts and met with the Titans, a team that piqued his interest.

“That’s a cool place to live, Nashville, Tennessee,” Bowers said with a smile.

If Bowers opts not to work out at the combine, Georgia’s pro day is an annual must-stop for all 32 teams and is scheduled for March 13.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal tight end Benjamin Yurosek (84) warms up before the game against the Oregon Ducks at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Stanford TE Benjamin Yurosek commits to Georgia

Former Stanford tight end Benjamin Yurosek confirmed Friday he is transferring to Georgia.

The 6-foot-4, 242-pound senior caught 108 passes for 1,342 yards and five touchdowns as a three-year starter for the Cardinal from 2021-23.

Yurosek told ESPN he was attracted to Georgia because of the competition in the Southeastern Conference and for the way the Bulldogs deploy their tight ends.

“Obviously Georgia has the best of both worlds,” Yurosek said. “They have big-time football and the use of tight ends.”

He will help the Bulldogs replace All-American Brock Bowers, regarded as the top tight end in the 2024 NFL Draft class.

Yurosek is finishing his undergraduate degree at Stanford this quarter before enrolling at Georgia.

–Field Level Media

Georgia Co-Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp looks on during warm ups before the start of a NCAA college football game against Missouri in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.

Georgia retains Will Muschamp, hires Alabama’s Travaris Robinson

Georgia announced changes to its coaching staff Saturday, with Will Muschamp moving to an off-field role and Alabama assistant Travaris Robinson hired as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

Muschamp, a former Florida and South Carolina head coach, returned to his alma mater in Athens, Ga., as a defensive analyst and special teams coordinator in 2021 before rising to co-defensive coordinator in 2022. He will be a defensive analyst next season.

Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart said Muschamp, 52, wants to spend more time with his family, with the new role potentially allowing him to keep a closer eye on the play of his son, Whit, who arrived at Vanderbilt as a freshman quarterback.

“We are excited about the addition of Coach Robinson and his family to the University of Georgia, while having the opportunity to retain Coach Muschamp and his family on our staff,” Smart said in a statement.

Robinson, 42, spent one season as cornerbacks coach and in 2023 was responsible for the entire defensive secondary at Alabama. Kalen DeBoer is taking over as head coach for the Crimson Tide in place of the retired Nick Saban.

Regarded as a top recruiter, Robinson has coached defenses at leading programs such as Miami and Auburn.

“Travaris has 17 years of college coaching experience, including over a decade in the SEC mentoring some of the top defenses statistically in the NCAA,” Smart said in the statement.

Robinson, an Auburn alum, will be working with co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann, who has been on the Georgia staff since 2016.

–Field Level Media

A memorial at the crash site were UGA football player Devin Willock and UGA staffer Chandler LeCroy died in a car crash on Barnett Shoals Road in Athens.

Lawsuit: Georgia staff knew of drinking at events, impermissible cash payments

An amended court filing in the case of a former Georgia football recruiting analyst seriously injured in a crash a year ago contends staff members frequently drove vehicles rented by the school’s athletic association after drinking.

Additionally, attorneys representing the woman said coaches spent money on recruits during unofficial visits, against NCAA rules.

The bombshell accusations were part of a report Thursday from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reviewed court papers filed in the case of Victoria “Tory” Bowles, the survivor of an accident that killed a fellow member of the recruiting staff and a Bulldogs football player.

She is suing the Georgia Athletics Association, as well as the estate of Chandler LeCroy, who was killed in the Jan. 15, 2023 crash, and Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Carter. Carter pleaded no contest to racing and reckless driving in March after being linked to the accident. He was sentenced to probation and community service.

LeCroy was driving a rented SUV when the vehicle veered off the road and hit two power poles and several trees.

LeCroy was killed, as was Devin Willock, a Georgia offensive lineman. Toxicology reports showed LeCroy had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.197 percent — nearly 2 1/2 times the Georgia limit — when the SUV she was driving was traveling 104 mph.

“My client’s iPhone survived the crash fully intact and contains thousands of pages of recruiting texts describing the inner workings of UGA’s recruiting activities,” Bowles’ attorney Rob Buck said in a statement to the newspaper. “The new texts included in the Amended Complaint establish that the Association was fully aware recruiting staffers were regularly allowed to drive recruits and their families around Athens after drinking alcohol at Association sponsored events.”

A university official said the school is prepared to fight the allegations.

“We are reviewing the amended complaint, but we dispute its claims and will vigorously defend the Athletic Association’s interests in court,” said Steven Drummond, a Georgia executive associate athletic director, per the newspaper.

The filing includes text messages purportedly from Bowles’ phone that discuss school staff members drinking at football-related events, including one at head coach Kirby Smart’s house, warning them not to consume too much alcohol.

“Hey guys… if you are driving you can have fun at Coach Smarts but if you are driving a recruit make sure you don’t get drunk,” read one text message from 2019, reportedly from a staff member. “It will be a bad look if we have people who are supposed to be driving recruits getting lit.”

Bowles’ amended lawsuit also touches upon what she alleges was a practice of coaches and staff paying for a recruit’s expenses during unofficial visits, which is not permitted.

“Ms. Bowles was aware from her own observations and from prior communications from her superiors of UGA football coaches’ use of cash in recruiting activities involving unofficial visits prior to that evening,” the filing reads, per the Journal-Constitution.

Since filing her initial lawsuit last summer, Bowles was fired from her job. In her case, she is seeking nearly $200,000 for medical bills, lost wages and unspecified damages.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; UNLV Rebels quarterback Jayden Maiava (1) roles out to pass against Kansas Jayhawks defensive lineman Jereme Robinson (90) during the first quarter in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-UNLV QB Jayden Maiava flips transfer commitment from Georgia to USC

Former UNLV quarterback Jayden Maiava is joining Southern California after announcing he was transferring to Georgia on Monday.

The reversal comes as the offseason QB carousel spun a 2023 top prospect, Malachi Nelson, to Boise State from USC, which expects 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams to enter the 2024 NFL Draft.

Maiava’s commitment gives the Trojans a competition at the position involving Miller Moss, who threw six touchdown passes in the Holiday Bowl with Williams opting out.

Georgia starter Carson Beck returns for the Bulldogs in 2024 but five-star recruit Dylan Raiola flipped to Nebraska and Brock Vandagriff, a four-star quarterback prospect in the 2021 class, transferred to Kentucky.

Maiava had 3,085 passing yards and 17 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in 14 games as a redshirt freshman in 2023.

–Field Level Media