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Kirby Smart watches UGA break SEC record for spring game attendance

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia's Kirby Smart wanted to make a splash in his first spring game as his alma mater's head coach, and the Bulldogs' fan base delivered in Saturday's G-Day game at Sanford Stadium.

Georgia broke the SEC record for spring game attendance, with 93,000 fans watching the White team defeat the Red team, 34-14.

The previous SEC record for spring game attendance was 92,310, set at Alabama's 2011 A-Day game, which was the day the Crimson Tide unveiled a statue of coach Nick Saban. Georgia's previous spring game attendance record was 46,815, set last year.

"Well, opening remarks will be: Wow," said Smart, a former Georgia defensive back who was hired in December to replace longtime Bulldogs coach Mark Richt, who was fired after 15 seasons.

Smart, who spent the previous nine seasons on Saban's staff at Alabama, including the last eight as defensive coordinator, challenged Georgia's fan base to sell out the spring game during an appearance at a Bulldogs basketball game Jan. 23.

"We want to see 93,000 there to come out and support us," Smart said at the time. "The easiest thing in recruiting is when your fan base is united, and everybody is pulling in the same direction. That's what we need, that's what we want, that's what we expect. We want to get that done."

Smart repeated his challenge throughout the past few weeks of spring practice, and Georgia's athletic department even launched a #93KDay hashtag on Twitter.

Georgia's fans showed up. On at least two occasions during Saturday's game, the public address announcer asked fans to squeeze together so other people could find seats. Hundreds of fans watched from stairs, towers and other standing-room only areas of the stadium.

Before the game, rapper Ludacris entertained fans with a few songs, and then Bulldogs anxiously waited for freshman quarterback Jacob Eason to take the field.

Eason, who was ranked the No. 1 pocket passer and No. 13 prospect overall in the ESPN 300, didn't disappoint in the scrimmage. The native of Lake Stevens, Washington, completed 19 of 29 passes for 244 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions about three months after he graduated from high school early and enrolled at Georgia.

Eason heads into the summer in a three-way battle with senior Greyson Lambert and junior Brice Ramsey for the starting job.

"I don't think he knew there was 93,000 fans out there because he sure didn't act like he cared," Smart said. "He executed the offense, went out and did what he had to do. He's a very level-headed kid. So for him to do that, that was good.

"I tell you what, for the fan base to come out to support our program and to support our kids the way they did, it touches me in my heart and makes a special moment.

"It speaks volumes for where Georgia's headed and what it can do. I don't think [Eason] knew there were 93,000 people out there because he sure didn't [show it]."