ATHENS, GA (WALB) - Kirby Smart said all the right things Monday.
Sitting in the front row, soaking it all in was Kirby's father, former Bainbridge High coach Sonny Smart. who says it's no surprise his son has made a name for himself in the coaching realm
"I had a lot of good athletes that could play, but they really didn't know everything that was going on," he says. "Kirby always did. He knew exactly what was happening, a lot of time could predict better than I could what was coming next. He had a gift there, and I think that showed."
Sonny Smart coached Bainbridge from 1988-1994, and led the Bearcats to the state semifinals in 1993.
But following in his father's footsteps wasn't always a done deal for the former All-SEC defensive back. Sonny says Kirby didn't decide coaching was his calling until after his final game in the red and black.
"Coach [Will] Muschamp had called him and asked him to go to Valdosta State. When he left the house, he was not going," Sonny remembers. "He called us after the game and said I'm on my way to Valdosta. Somewhere in that day he decided that's what he wanted to do, and the rest happened."
After a season as a Georgia grad assistant, Smart began his coaching career as the defensive backs coach at VSU. He stayed in Titletown one more season as the Blazers' defensive coordinator in 2001.
From there, Smart became one of the nation's premier assistant coaches.
As for advice from one head coach to another, Sonny says he kept it simple.
"Get really good players," he laughs. "The team with the best players usually wins."