Why Kirby is the Smart choice for UGA

Kirby Smart will be introduced as the new football coach at the University of Georgia at a news conference Monday, the school announced Sunday afternoon.

Despite his years working in Alabama, there’s no question that Smart has Georgia running through his veins.

He went to high school in Georgia.

He played college football for the University of Georgia.

His wife played basketball at UGA.

He began his coaching career in Athens, and his first full-time coaching job was in the Peach State.

And finally, Smart returned to Georgia to lead to his defense to its second straight conference championship and a shot at another national championship.

The university announced Sunday that Smart will replace Mark Richt as Georgia’s head football coach.

Smart, 39, is a native of Bainbridge, Georgia where he played high school football for Bainbridge High School. He was a four-year letterman at defensive back for Georgia and a first time All-SEC selection as a senior. Smart began his coaching career Georgia in 1999, serving as an administrative assistant. He then moved to Valdosta State where he spent one season as defensive backs coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator for the 2001 season. Smart returned to Athens as Georgia’s running backs coach in 2005.

Since 2007, Smart has been a member of Nick Saban’s staff at the University of Alabama. Since 2008, he has served as the Tide’s Defensive Coordinator. He was awarded the Broyles Award in 2009 as the nation’s best assistant coach, and recognized as the 2012 AFCA FBS Assistant Coach of the Year.

The move comes after Smart's Alabama defense shut down Florida, only giving up 1 touchdown late in the 4th quarter in Saturday's 29-15 win over the Gators in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome.

Dawgs247’s Rusty Mansell calls the hiring of Smart a smart move.

Mansell said Smart will bring the work ethic to Athens made legendary by his former boss, Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

One of Smart’s strengths is his ability as a recruiter.

Mansell said, “Kirby gets into the recruiting battles. You see schools put their best recruiters on the kids who will be the battles. Kirby has won many of those key battles for Alabama.”

Mansell credits Smart with bringing a number of Alabama’s current players to Tuscaloosa, including linebackers Reuben Foster who originally committed to Auburn and Rashaan Evans whose father played at Auburn.

According to Mansell, Smart has also successfully recruited a number of high school players from Georgia including RB Kenyan Drake and LB Dillon Lee.

The recruiting expert said Smart is hugely popular with high school coaches in Georgia, and predicts those relationships will only get better.

Mansell said, “When Kirby Smart walks in, people will bend over backwards to help him.”

Mansell says the hiring of an offensive coordinator will be critical for Smart as the Dawgs try to keep top ranked QB Jacob Eason committed, and predicts he will hire a defensive coordinator he’s familiar with to run the system that has been so successful for him at Alabama.

Saban has a policy of not allowing his assistant coaches to speak publicly, but Mansell expects Georgia fans will be surprised with how well Smart will interact with fans.

Mansell said, “The Georgia fan base will be surprised how good a speaker he is. He can own a room very quickly.”

If there’s any question about how smart he is, Dawg fans should remember that Smart was a 4-time member of the SEC All-Academic team and he earned a master’s degree from Florida State in 2003.

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