The timing left a little to be desired, but otherwise it appears the sudden departure of Giff Smith is not going to undo any of Georgia Tech’s good recruiting work.
Smith, the Yellow Jackets’ defensive line coach and well-respected recruiting coordinator, resigned Tuesday in order to accept a position as outside linebackers coach for Chan Gailey’s Buffalo Bills. Smith was actually in Buffalo, N.Y., late Tuesday afternoon as he called the many Tech recruits and players with whom he had a relationship.
“I had actually heard it before I talked to him,” said Denzel McCoy, a committed defensive tackle from Duluth’s Northview High School. “But I wasn’t going to believe it until I heard it from him. Coach Smith is a very goal-oriented person and one of his goals was to coach on the next level. So I told him congratulations. He just said thank you and that he hated that he wasn’t going to get to coach me.”
Defensive tackle Shawn Green of Grayson is the only other current commitment for whom Smith would have been a position coach.
“I first heard it from Coach Johnson,” Green said. “I was like, ‘for real?’ I was shocked. I didn’t see that coming. I liked Coach Smith. He was a good D-line coach and I wish him the best. But it doesn’t change anything at all. I’m still committed to Georgia Tech. The only thing running through my mind is who is going to be coaching me now?”
In the meantime, the Yellow Jackets are having to figure out how to handle the remainder of its recruiting a week before signing day. The good news is there is not much left to do. Tech currently has 16 commitments and is not expected to sign more than 19 or 20, if that.
Tech’s first move was to divide up the remaining players on their board among the remaining coaches. They’re probably dealing with fewer than a dozen remaining targets for 2010. But dozens of 2011 recruits will be on campus for junior day later this week.
As for logistics, the way Tech ran its operation was Smith oversaw all of the off-campus recruiting while Liam Klein, the director of player personnel, handled all the on-campus dealings such as official visits, unofficial visits, junior days and clinics. Klein will probably absorb a lot of Smith’s administrative duties in the interim along with operations director Jason Snider and assistant operations director Topher Roberts.
What effect it will have going forward is uncertain. As one of the uncommitted prospects the Yellow Jackets continue to pursue, Stephenson defensive tackle Mike Thornton said Smith’s departure did not set them back with him.
“Not at all,” he said. “B.J. [Brian Jean-Mary] is my recruiter but I talked to Coach Smith a lot, too. It doesn’t matter. You don’t go to the school for the coach. You go to the school for the school. So it doesn’t change anything.”