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Monday, February 1, 2010

Get to Know: Garrison Smith

We're just 48 hours away from seeing Georgia's commitments ink their names on letters of intent on signing day, but for defensive tackle Garrison Smith, there's never been any doubt about where he planned to play college ball. He's loved UGA since he was a kid, and he's finally close to fulfilling his dream of suiting up for the Bulldogs.

I caught up with Garrison recently to get his thoughts on his recruitment, the changing scheme on defense for Georgia and his hopes for 2010 in our latest "Get to Know…" installment.

David Hale: When you were first recruited and decided to come to Georgia, it was under one system. Now, you're going to be playing on the D line in another system -- the 3-4 instead of the 4-3. Has that worried you at all?

Garrison Smith: Just being able to play on the next level, it wasn't hard. Coach Richt was going to get the best people he felt was right for the team, and I just had to play football. No matter what scheme, you've still got to play, and that's how it is at the end of the day.

DH: Have you played in a 3-4 before?

GS: My senior year, they switched the defense to a 3-4. That was my first time, so I'm kind of used to it. But I don't think Georgia's 3-4 is going to be like ours. It's going to probably be a little different.

DH: What were your first impressions of Todd Grantham?

GS: He knows what he's talking about, he's ready to coach us up, he's ready to put us in the best position to win. He's real excited being around these college guys.

DH: There's been a pretty long legacy of good defensive tackles at Georgia, and you're coming in after guys like Jeff Owens and Geno Atkins, who have been fixtures there for a long time. Is it exciting for you to think you can come in and have an impact right away or are there some nerves about knowing that people are going to be really counting on you?

GS: I'm excited. It's some big shoes to fill but I'm just going to follow the directions of my coaches and follow the great players that are already there like Abry Jones and DeAngelo Tyson and all them guys. Brandon Wood. They're some real good guys, so we're going to be alright.

DH: Do you have any NFL guys that you've modeled your game after?

GS: I don't even like to compare myself to those top players because they're already great, and I don't consider myself anywhere near them. Even if I did compare myself to somebody in the NFL, they wouldn't even play defensive line. It'd be somebody like Ray Lewis or Troy Polamalu or someone like that.

DH: So you wanted to imitate their attitude more than their game?

GS: Oh yeah, I'm just for getting after it and being relentless out there.

DH: Did you always want to come to Georgia or did they need to do a good job of convincing you to become a Bulldog?

GS: Ever since I was little. I was watching TV one day and there was a football game on, and I saw this big old running back running over a lot of people. It was Musa Smith. That's when I first started watching Georgia football, and ever since then I always said they were my favorite team and I always watched and rooted for them every time they played.

I'd actually met Coach Richt a couple times, just running into him. When I was in fourth grade, we had a camp for all the fourth graders and he was the coach. We did some drills with him. Then when I was in eighth grade, I went to a camp at Georgia, and that's what made me get my mind right for what I had to do to get ready for high school football.

DH: Is it strange for you now to think about the fact that you first met Mark Richt when you were in fourth grade and now here you are about to be playing for him?

GS: It's a very weird feeling. I never would have thought this would happen in my wildest dreams. It's crazy how things work out. It's just a blessing to have this opportunity and I thank God every day for it.

DH: So you committed pretty early and you haven't wavered in your decision. Have other teams continued to come after you or are they taking it easy on you?

GS: They've died down. They've got some good recruiting classes out there, so they've pretty much eased the sell.

DH: What was it like for that six-week stretch when you didn't know who the coaches at Georgia would be?

GS: I always put my trust in Coach Richt from Day 1. He's a good guy, he did all the right things. He said that's how he was going to make his decision. I believed he'd make the right decision, and no matter what scheme you're running, you've still got to play football.

DH: What do you like to do in your free time away from the football field?

GS: I just like to chill and relax. I spend time with my grandparents. I go over there after school, go there to eat breakfast every morning. I just spend a lot of time with my grandparents, relax and stay out of trouble. I might go to the movies. I'm just a chill guy. I like to lay low and have fun.

DH: How are you spending these last few months of high school? Are you getting prepped for college or trying to soak in your last moments in high school?

GS: I'm just focused right now trying to get ready for the next stage of my life. But I'm having fun and enjoying the last couple of months of high school. I'm having fun with it. It's the last time I'll be in high school, so I'm enjoying it.

DH: Have you gotten any good advice from Georgia's current players about what you need to do to get ready for college?

GS: They've told me some stuff here and there. There's some good guys at Georgia. That's another reason I like the school is there's nobody that ever acted like a superstar or they were better than anybody. It's a real cool, down-to-earth environment.

DH: So what do you think will constitute a successful season for you in 2010? What are your expectations?

GS: I don't know. The sky is the limit. It's all going to depend on how hard I work, so that's all I can do.


dcdawg79 said...

DH - Thanks for this article. I love hearing from grounded recruits who play the game for the right reasons and don't get ahead of themselves. Whether it translates into wins or not, having a program filled with young men like this makes me proud to be a bulldawg fan.

The Realist said...

...Musa Smith?....

That makes me feel ooooold.

Blog Goliard said...

Seems like a great kid, and just the sort of young man you'd expect Coach Richt to be bringing in.

Maybe I'm just hopelessly naive and a dork, but as much as I've enjoyed the SEC titles and big wins, the thing that gives me greatest satisfaction about being a UGA employee and fan is thinking of some of the truly fine young men and women who have come through here, representing us well in a wide variety of sports.

I'm no Pollyanna. I know there are plenty of counter-examples. And it is, in one sense, surely a real accomplishment to keep someone like Odell eligible and out of jail during his time at UGA. Somebody probably deserves an award for that.

But to produce a graduate who has shown true character and growth as a human being, and is better equipped to take on the pressures and challenges of adult life whether or not he ever steps onto a football field again, is a far sweeter accomplishment. And I know that Coach Richt and his staff take their responsibilities in this area seriously and very much to heart.

May the new recruiting class bring them the very best material to work with, both on and off the field.

Blue Gill said...

I feel your pain Realist.

When I was a kid it was Jake Scott and Bill Stanfill.

It gives you a mighty mortal feeling to hear somebody say, "when I was a kid watching Musa Smith play football"

More life behind me than there is in front of me I guess.

Hunter said...

Nice interview man. Sounds like a good guy. And ditto on the making me old thing when the running back turned out to be Musa Smith.