SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Outside linebacker Nolan Smith got his first start for the Dawgs against Tennessee. He was co-winner of the New Comer of the Year award last season at Georgia, but you can’t tell his story without Calvary Day School.
At 6′3″ and 235 pounds, Smith’s size is undeniable, but former football coach Mark Stroud says it’s what he does with that gift that makes him special.
“He recognized that he had the potential," Stroud said. "And he just maximized himself in the weight room, on the field, understanding the game, working tirelessly to get where he is today.”
Smith finished his high school career at IMG Academy and as one of the top recruits in the country.
Athletic Director Chad Griffin said, of course, they would have loved to have had Smith all four years, but he had a five-year plan and they’re watching it unfold on Saturdays.
“I want to see, you know, if I can be that guy," said Stroud. "Nolan is always looking for that next challenge. That’s just his- I believe that’s just his mental makeup. I believe that’s what makes him great. Those one-percenters who are always looking for that challenge. Always that chip on your shoulder type.”
Smith’s next challenge comes in the form of the number-two Alabama Crimson Tide offense, but regardless of the game, Griffin says that Smith’s greatest gift is who he is off the football field.
There’s never a person that Nolan doesn’t meet or impact, and that’s the blessing that he’s going to have well beyond football, is the ability to impact lives is going to last him well beyond his football career, because he just has an innate ability to connect with people, and people immediately fall in love with who he is as a person," said Stroud.
Stroud and Griffin say that when he can, Smith comes back to visit Calvary and that he will always have a home in the Cavalier family here in Savannah.