Nolan Smith’s road to Orange Bowl started in Savannah


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (WSAV) – For every player on the Orange Bowl field, it will be the biggest game of their lives. That includes a Savannah native and one of the most important players on Georgia’s historic defense.

Linebacker Nolan Smith is a former five-star recruit – the best at his position in the entire country – and that all started on the practice field at Calvary Day School.

Smith first caught the attention of Calvary Day coaches when he came out for football camps in middle school. 

He was a defensive end back then and played a little bit of running back, too. It wasn’t long before he started dominating.

Although Smith transferred from Calvary to IMG Academy in Florida, he still considers Savannah home.

He says he hopes today’s high school football players can learn something from watching his career, even if that something has nothing to do with football.

As for where Smith’s head’s at going into the bowl game against Michigan, former coach Harold Nelson says he’s as relaxed as can be.

“When we talk, we usually don’t talk about football. When I talked to him, he was trying to find a nice little poodle for a friend of the family,” Nelson said. “So he’s relaxed. When he gets locked in, he separates on the field and off the field.

Smith came on strong to start Georgia’s season with two and a half sacks in the first three games. He hasn’t had one since, although he’s been impactful in other ways.

We’ll see if Smith gets in the backfield again Friday. Georgia and Michigan kick off at 7:30 p.m. from Hard Rock Stadium. Catch it live on ESPN.

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