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Days before Signing Day, Georgia Tech recruiting coordinator Giff Smith has accepted a job as outside linebackers coach with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
Smith will be reunited with Chan Gailey, recently hired to be the Bills’ head coach a little more than two years after he was fired as the Yellow Jackets’ coach. A call to the Buffalo Bills hasn’t been returned. A text and call to Smith hasn’t been returned.
Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 3 and Tech’s class is ranked No. 44 by Rivals.com and No. 45 by Scout.com.
Smith has been Tech’s recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for the past four seasons. Gailey hired him as the line coach in 2004, after Smith spent five seasons at Tulane.
A native of Mableton (Pebblebrook), Smith is a graduate of Georgia Southern (1991).
During Smith’s tenure as recruiting coordinator, the Jackets have signed several nationally ranked players, including Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Demaryius Thomas and Morgan Burnett, whom are all expected to go in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft in April.
Smith was paid $189,000 at Tech.
Several Tech recruits said Smith’s decision won’t affect their commitments.
Northview defensive tackle Denzel McCoy said he was “mad” when he heard that Smith was leaving. But McCoy calmed down after talking over the phone with him.
“We were pretty tight,” McCoy said. “Smith called to tell me about the news. He said he was looking forward to watching me the next four years, and hopefully would get to coach me at the next level (NFL).”
McCoy said he and fellow Georgia Tech commitment Shawn Green of Grayson had visited with Smith for nearly eight hours. They talked about Tech’s defensive line of the future, and watch films of old NFC championship games, including the 1998 thriller between the Falcons and Vikings.
“It was a good day,” McCoy said. “(Smith) didn’t say anything about another job. We had big plans for next year. I was mad at first when I heard he was leaving, but it’s all good now. I’m moving forward.”
Tech head coach Paul Johnson also called McCoy on Tuesday. “(Johnson) said not to worry about it, that they were going to bring someone in highly capable to do the job,” McCoy said.
McCoy said Arkansas has been trying to sway him, but that he remains committed to Tech.
Union Grove defensive end Anthony Williams said his commitment is firm because of the relationships that he’s made with the rest of Tech’s coaches, as well as with the other commitments.
Central High (Phenix City, Ala.) running back Deon Hill said his commitment is firm because “of the program and the education I’ll get.”
What was the reaction of Blessed Trinity defensive back Jake Skole? “It stinks,” he said. “He was a good dude, and a good coach.”
“I was disappointed to hear about it. But I picked Georgia Tech for a lot of reasons, and I know (Johnson) knows what he’s going and will hire a good replacement. We’ll be all right.”
Skole said he remains committed to Tech.
Synjyn Days’ father, Calvin, said his son is committed to “coach Johnson and coach [Brian] Bohannon, the Institute and the things that are happening there.”
Synjyn, a quarterback at Hillgrove, said it’s hard to see Smith go because he said they had such a good connection. Synjyn said before the Georgia game, when the players were jumping around in the huddle, Smith walked over and asked: “You want to get in there, don’t you?”
Synjyn’s response: “You know me too well, coach.”
He hadn’t heard from any of Tech’s coaches on Tuesday, but he said he is “100-percent firm” in his commitment.
The Jackets have 16 players committed with two scholarships remaining. Offers have been made to two players: Stephenson defensive tackle Mike Thornton and Roswell wide receiver Chris Boyd, who previously committed to Vanderbilt.
Commitments are non-binding until the players sign their letters of intent next week.
Tech’s 2010 commitments
Catlin Alford OL 6-4 275 Adairsville, GA
Jeremiah Attaochu LB 6-3 223 Washington, DC
Ryan Ayers DB 5-10 175 Douglasville, GA
Morgan Bailey OL 6-4 285 Loganville, GA
Barry Bostic ATH 5-10 156 Louisville, GA
Synjyn Days ATH 6-2 205 Powder Springs, GA
Shawn Green DT 6-2 275 Loganville, GA
Deon Hill RB 6-0 195 Phenix City, AL
Fred Holton DB 6-1 196 Thomasville, GA
Isaiah Johnson DB 6-2 175 Tyrone, GA
Denzel McCoy DT 6-4 275 Duluth, GA
Justin Moore K 5-10 160 Atlanta, GA
Quayshawn Nealy LB 6-0 215 Lakeland, FL
Charles Perkins RB 6-0 195 Suwanee, GA
Jake Skole DB 6-1 185 Roswell, GA
Anthony Williams DE 6-4 235 McDonough, GA
Staff report Michael Carvell and correspondent Matt Winkeljohn contributed to this report.