Smith 'living a dream' heading to UK

December 22, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Chuck Smith could not have received a better birthday present than the one he received Monday.

Smith, who turned 47 Tuesday, got the call he always dreamed about Monday when Kentucky coach Rich Brooks called to offer him a spot on his staff as the linebackers coach.

"I am kind of living a dream for a lot of high school coaches today," Smith said Tuesday. "I have been with a lot of them and know how many wish they had the opportunity to coach at the collegiate level one day. Now the dream is coming true for me. That's why I have to make sure I make it work."

Smith certainly made it work during his 13 years at Boyle when he won five straight state championships from 1999-2003, went to the state finals six straight years and had an overall record of 142-33.


"I'm excited to get a coach who has had such tremendous success in turning around a struggling football program into a perennial state power," Brooks said Tuesday. "Chuck is a very good teacher of fundamentals. He has produced outstanding players and outstanding students, such as (current UK players) Jacob Tamme and Taylor Begley.

"As a coach who is from Kentucky, played at the University of Kentucky, and coached in Kentucky, I believe he'll be an asset in recruiting in the state. I'm impressed with his enthusiasm for football and his enthusiasm about coaching at UK."

Smith was an all-state linebacker at Jeffersontown before signing to play at Kentucky for Fran Curci. Smith was second on the team in tackles as a senior linebacker in 1980 with 133 stops and was third on the team in tackles his junior year with 95.

First staff meeting on Jan. 2

Smith, who began his coaching career as an assistant at Mercer County from 1983-86, will have his first staff meeting at Kentucky Jan. 2.

"I can't wait to get started and see what it is all about," Smith said. "I want to meet the players, especially the linebackers."

Smith said he was not that familiar with UK's personnel because he normally spent Saturdays either preparing for upcoming games or, if he did see Kentucky play, he did not watch specific players other than Tamme and Begley.

"It's really too new for me to know anything yet," he said.

However, he's looking forward to working under Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer, a former head coach at LSU and a former coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"He has such a great reputation and knows a lot about football," Smith said. "I'll just have to learn as fast as I can and try to keep up."

While UK has played mainly a 3-4 alignment the last two seasons under Archer, Smith said based on his interview he's looking for more of a 4-3 look next season that will use three linebackers.

"I will be coaching all three linebacker positions," he said. "That's not certain yet, but that's what it sounded like at my interview."

Has to pass NCAA recruiting test

Smith has to pass a NCAA recruiting test before he can be certified to go on the road to visit prospective players.

"Once I pass that, coach Brooks will put me on the road to visit the linebackers who have already (verbally) committed," Smith said. "I think I'll be fine recruiting-wise. I love young people. I just come from my heart and my intentions are always going to be what is best for the kid. As long as you develop sound relationships, recruiting should be fine. I don't think it will be that difficult."

He's had numerous Division I coaches at Boyle in recent years recruit players such as Bobby Leffew, Jacob Tamme, Brodie Overstreet, Travis Leffew and Taylor Begley. He's picked out what he liked, and disliked, when the recruiters visited.

"I can draw from those experiences because I know as a high school coach what impressed me and what didn't," Smith said.

Smith said his wife, Jackie, will continue to work at Boyle County High School. His son, Brandon, also still intends to honor his recent verbal commitment to play at Western Kentucky. Brandon Smith led Boyle to 40 wins and two state championships the last three years when he amassed almost 11,000 yards of total offense.

An opportunity he couldn't pass up

Chuck Smith says while he would have like to watch his son play every game in college, this is an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

"You never know when this opportunity will come again, or if it even would," the former Boyle coach, who has been coaching for 22 years, said. "I have watched him play every game and almost every practice since he was real young. He is really good with this decision. He is happy for me."

Chuck Smith is confident his move to Kentucky is no gamble even though Brooks' team won just two games last year after winning only four in his first season in 2003.

"I am very confident that I know what I am doing. It's only a gamble if I planned to fail and I don't plan to fail. To me, it's no gamble at all because I believe in Kentucky football," Smith said.

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