New GHS coach ready for spring drills

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 10:31 p.m.

Gainesville High School football coach Ryan Smith has been on the job a little more than two months, but already he has made a big impression.

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Ryan Smith has made quite an impression in his short time as new football coach at Gainesville High.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun

"(Soon-to-be-graduated defensive end) Bryan Harris told me after he met coach Smith that he wishes he had one more year of eligibility left so that he could play for him," GHS athletic director Cindy Boulware said. "Everyone has reacted very positively to him."

That's easy to do.

Very personable and quick with a joke (he asked the photographer for this story to use a "thinning lens"), Smith is only 31 years old, but has arrived with a duffel bag full of aspirations.

A few years down the road, he imagines GHS becoming one of those elite programs that plays in nationally televised games. He has started preparing for that day by meeting with not just the current Hurricanes, but also local middle school and Boys Club players.

"You have to develop a feeder program," said Smith, a defensive assistant previously on powerful teams at Tallahassee North Florida Christian, Moultrie (Ga.) and Orlando Dr. Phillips. "You don't want it so you are good for two years and then have a down year. We want to be successful every year."

Smith said part of getting to that point is upgrading the schedule.

That's why he wasn't too upset when Columbia called to ask about cancelling next season's game against GHS to play Georgia power Camden County.

"I think it's great they are doing that," said Smith, who was raised in Perry and is commuting two hours from there to GHS each day until closing on a Gainesville home in a few weeks. "I hope someday soon we'll be going out of state for games like that."

But first things first.

Spring practice begins today and Smith said he believes close to 100 athletes will be participating for GHS.

The Hurricanes were just 1-8 last year in Eddy Moore's final season, and Smith said the team is starting fresh, though he adds "coach Moore left us in good shape."

The early goals are to work on the basics of tackling, blocking, protecting the ball and collecting turnovers while also implementing his 50 defense and the schemes of offensive coordinator Britt McGriff.

"Nothing too fancy," Smith said. "I firmly believe in the keep it simple, stupid philosophy. If we can master the fundamentals of the game, we'll do good things. If not, we won't.

"My hope is we can have a good spring and have some fun doing it, too.

"We've got a lot of hungry kids that want to succeed and do well. They've done everything I've asked, and I'm really excited about being here working with them."

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