From Charlie Ward at Pensacola-Washington and Kyler Hall at Live Oak-Suwannee to Devin Bush and then Stanford Samuels Jr., at Pembroke Pines-Flanagan, former Florida State Seminoles have been popping up as head football coaches around the state of Florida.
Add one more to the list.
Leroy Smith, who started at cornerback for the Seminoles in 2003 and 2004 before playing in the NFL and other professional leagues, is preparing for his first season as the new head coach at Jefferson County High in nearby Monticello, Fla.
“Mickey Andrews and Bobby Bowden,” Smith said with a laugh, when asked why so many former FSU standouts have gone into coaching. “I’m serious though. I’m glad we had guys like that who pulled us out of the streets. Guys who not only taught us football fundamentals, but also the fundamentals of life.
“You can’t just keep all that knowledge inside of you. It has to come out.”
Smith, who played for the legendary defensive coordinator and head coach during his years at Florida State, will have to tap into all of his skills and qualities to succeed in what will be a challenging new position.
Not only did Jefferson County win just one football game last season, but the entire school system is facing a monumental transition after financial and academic struggles forced it to map a new course. The district decided earlier this year to bring in a non-profit charter school company to run its public schools.
So, not only is Smith having to do all of the things required of a new head coach – learning the community, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the football program and gaining the trust of his players – Smith also is getting a feel for how things will operate in a charter school environment.
His attitude and outlook could not be more positive.
“Everything else is just football,” Smith said. “Jefferson County is just like Gadsden County, where I worked at and where I grew up.”