Bainbridge, GA (WTXL)-- Less than 24 hours after winning his fourth National title under Nick Saban at Alabama, Kirby Smart began his new job as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Smart came back home to coach at his alma mater, and it's his hometown of Bainbridge that couldn't be prouder.
"That's my heart and soul," Smart said after Georgia's spring game. "It's a special place, and to have a big number of folks come from there, it means a lot."
"He was very intense," remembered Stan Killough, who was Smart's baseball coach when he was a Bearcat. "He loved competition. He loved to compete. As best I remember, didn't enjoy losing at all!"
"Just as he was on the athletic fields, Kirby was very competitive in the classroom," said Tommie Howell, was an assistant principal at Bainbridge in 90's. "Outstanding student. Very intense, and very successful."
Smart was successful enough to be named Bainbridge High's Salutatorian for the Class of 1994.
"Being the supervisor of graduation ceremonies, I would have to read it and make sure it was okay. He pretty well nailed it!" laughed Howell. "Being he had an english teach as a mother, he had a competitive advantage in speech writing."
An advantage well deserved. Smart played three sports at Bainbridge, and after a stellar football career at Georgia, he did what he was always meant to do- coach.
"Kirby was a coach on the field. He was so knowledgable of the game," said Killough. "He was a student of the game. It was no surprise he'd be successful."
Four National Championships as defensive coordinator at Alabama, now the head coach at his alma mater? That's pretty successful.
"It proves that with a lot of effort, you can achieve," said Howell. "Kirby may have not been the most talented athlete, nor student, but by intense effort, he succeeded and he won. He's a winner."
"I asked his dad, I said, you know, it's so good to see it happen," said Killough. "His dad's reply, in a text, was dreams do come true."