Kirby helped lay Alabama foundation

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The University of Alabama Crimson Tide has won three of the last four Bowl Championship Series (BCS) college football national championships.

The latest championship came Monday night when they defeated a previously undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish team, 42-14, in Miami, Fla.

There have been a couple of constant strong personalities who have been there throughout the run and laid a strong solid foundation for the future.

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One, of course, is Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban. The other, Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, has strong ties to Bainbridge and Decatur County.

I had the pleasure of covering Kirby’s prep football playing career.

The son of former Bearcats and Rabun County High School Wildcats head football coach Sonny and Sharon Smart, Kirby was a senior starting defensive back and Region 1-AAAA Sportswriters defensive player of the year for his father’s 1993 Bearcats team, which went 8-2 in the regular season and advanced all the way to the State Class AAAA semifinals.

During that special 1993 season, the Bearcats posted victories over three annually strong teams. They defeated the Colquitt County High School Packers, 21-10, defeated the Valdosta High School Wildcats, 10-7, and defeated the Lowndes County High School Vikings, 21-6.

A former winner of the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant college football coach in the country, Kirby won All-SEC and All-SEC academic honors as a defensive back with the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

As a youngster, Kirby was an outstanding all around athlete. He was an outstanding All-Region 1-AAAA infielder for coach Stan Killough’s Bearcats baseball team and a strong ball handling guard for coach Larry Slaughter’s Bearcats basketball team.

As a youngster, Kirby was also a record-setting swimmer for the Bainbridge Swim Team.

I feel blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to have covered such an outstanding athlete, coach and all-around great guy during his youth.