If Alabama blocks transfer Maurice Smith from Georgia, Miami could win

An impasse between mentor and pupil could help another coach they both know well.

Alabama coach Nick Saban is keeping defensive back Maurice Smith from transferring to Georgia and coach Kirby Smart, a former Saban assistant entering his first season at UGA. That’s according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who interviewed Smith’s mother.

If Saban blocks Smith from transferring, Miami coach Mark Richt — who spent the last 15 years at Georgia, competing against SEC rival Alabama — could wind up the sweepstakes winner.

Maurice Smith flexes during the 2015 Sugar Bowl against Ohio State. (Getty Images)

Maurice Smith flexes during the 2015 Sugar Bowl against Ohio State. (Getty Images)

The Hurricanes and Smith have mutual interest in each other, though Georgia is his preferred destination. Miami has a major need for cornerbacks, and Smith, who as a grad transfer would be immediately eligible, would add a veteran presence.

The AJC reported Smith is set to graduate from Alabama on Saturday. However, he needs a release from Saban to play at another SEC school. It’s unclear if Saban would have a problem with him playing for an ACC team like Miami.

The Hurricanes, who lost NFL-caliber cornerbacks Artie Burns (a first-round pick) and Tracy Howard, added former Texas safety Adrian Colbert as a grad transfer and moved him to cornerback.

Smith was Alabama’s first-team nickel back in the spring (a role Miami needs filled). He was a backup cornerback and safety the last few years, but held a valuable special teams role last season. He registered 15 tackles and a sack.

Smith, listed at 6-foot and 195 pounds, was a consensus four-star high school recruit and Under Armour All-American coming out of Sugar Land, Texas. His mother told the AJC his first choice was Baylor, but the scandal at that school turned his focus elsewhere.


According to the AJC, Saban said this about Smith at SEC media days:

“Maurice Smith has been a good player on our team. He’s a good person, and he would be a significant contributor to our team this year if he decided to stay at Alabama. … We have told him, ‘Because we support the SEC rule, it would not be in your best interest to have to sit out. If you want to go some place else (outside the SEC), we’d be glad to help you do that.’”

The SEC’s rule on in-conference transfers is the same for graduate transfers as it is for regular ones.

Though Saban has apparently never before blocked a player from transferring to Miami, Smart denied one player, A.J. Turman, from following Richt to Miami.


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