Kirby Smart puts the succession plan for Carson Beck in place with highly-rated transfer quarterback

After Dylan Raiola flipped from Georgia to Nebraska, Kirby Smart needed to add a quarterback, but instead of searching for depth, he made a big splash, getting Jaden Rashada, a top-10 quarterback from the 2023 class with four years of eligibility left.
Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada (5)
Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada (5) / Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY

With Nick Saban gone, there is no more dominant recruiter in college football than Kirby Smart. He’s just rarely ever unleashed his full power on the quarterback position because he hasn’t had to. Even when Georgia landed Justin Fields in 2018, Kirby had Jake Fromm lead his stacked roster to the College Football Playoff and then won two titles with Stetson Bennett. 

Now, Carson Beck, a class of 2020 four-star, is poised to return as one of the top quarterbacks in the country with a roster capable of winning the national championship. Still, while his slightly overlooked QBs have largely succeeded in Athens, lately, Kirby has decided to go big-game hunting to ensure a succession plan for Beck. 

In the Class of 2024, Georgia got an early commitment from the No. 1 quarterback Dylan Raiola before he flipped to Nebraska. Now, in the spring transfer portal window, the Bulldogs have made the biggest splash, landing Jaden Rashada from Arizona State.

Rashada was a highly-touted four-star in the loaded quarterback class of 2023, ranked as the No. 7 quarterback one spot behind Christopher Vizzina who went to Clemson, and just ahead of Eli Holstein who has since transferred to Pitt from Alabama. 

Despite his billing, Rashada struggled as a freshman, throwing for just 485 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions while completing just 53.7% of his passes in a disastrous situation in Tempe. Injuries shortened his season and preserved all four years of his eligibility which he now arrives in Athens with. 

The late flip from Raiola left Georgia needing another quarterback on the roster, but this is a bit of an unexpectedly aggressive move from Smart who has not been historically aggressive at that position. 

For Rashada, this move makes all the sense in the world and falls in line with what other quarterbacks in the 2023 class have already done. Of the top 10 quarterbacks from that group, which was headlined by Arch Manning and Nico Iamaleava, four have already found new homes. Dante Moore has transferred from UCLA to Oregon, Malachi Nelson left USC for Boise State, Holstein sought a fresh start at Pitt, and now Rashada. 

Moore’s decision in the winter transfer market is the most instructive for Rashada. Instead of seeking out another starting opportunity, Moore, who struggled in his nine games as a true freshman at UCLA, went to Oregon to backup Dillon Gabriel and reset. Rashada now gets a chance to do that behind Beck, and if he’s finally patient, he could inherit one of the best teams in the country in 2025. 

The only concern with this move, Rashada has never been patient. He was originally committed to Florida before signing with Arizona State and now after one year, the Pittsburg, California native is heading to Athens. 

Smart has seen other highly-rated quarterbacks walk out the door before, from Fields to JT Daniels, to this offseason when Brock Vandagriff got tired of waiting and left for Kentucky. Four-star 2022 recruit Gunnar Stockton and four-star 2023 recruit Ryan Puglisi could both be next to walk if Rashada is given the inside track to start in 2025. 

When you add a player like Rashada to your quarterback room, it makes a splash and causes ripples. It’s time to wait and see what the effects of those ripples are, but this could signal that the need for Beck’s successor was big enough to justify the risk.

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