Per NCAA rules, Kirby Smart isn’t allowed to attend an AAU 7-on-7 all-star game.
That doesn’t mean he can't catch a highlight video or two online almost every evening. As the 7-on-7 craze continues to grow across the country, it has created another way for prospective student-athletes to be noticed in recruiting.
Not letting anything slip by, Smart has monitored whatever 7-on-7 action he can that happens during the summer offseason months.
“It’s hard for us to pay attention it because we don’t get film on it a lot,” Smart said. “I can tell you that I don’t spend a night on Twitter where I don’t watch video of a guy making an unbelievable throw or a guy making an unbelievable catch. And you take note, going, ‘Wow, that kid’s making plays.’ ”
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The 7-on-7 rise hasn’t come without its share of controversy. A lot of high school football coaches are worried that the outside influences of 7-on-7 could turn the sport into how AAU basketball is operated.
Outside entities run the show in 7-on-7 as opposed to local high schools. That fact alone gives Smart a tad bit of an uneasy feeling.
“Now, (the players are) also out of their high school environment, their academic environment, which concerns me,” Smart said. “When you watch those 7-on-7s competitively, sometimes they’re wild. The ability to control them is tough.”
Traditionally, college coaches only had to concern themselves with the high school team a prospect played for. Coaches are now adjusting to familiarizing themselves with each prospect’s 7-on-7 affiliation, too.
Smart said 7-on-7 football is slowly becoming what AAU basketball is, which has brought the aforementioned concerns. But with each highlight Smart watches on Twitter, it is evident the players are getting a lot out of the 7-on-7 competition.
“The kids, give them credit. They enjoy it,” Smart said. “They like it. It keeps them out of trouble. They’re competing and playing in these games. There is some good and bad about it.”