Cedar Grove coach Jermaine Smith reacts during the Class AAA championship game in Decamber against Peach County at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Cedar Grove won 14-13. (JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC) Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz

Cedar Grove football coach Smith joins Georgia State staff

Another of Georgia’s most successful high school football coaches is leaving for a college job.

Jimmy Smith, who led Cedar Grove to state titles in 2018 and 2016, was announced on Thursday as Georgia State’s running backs coach under head coach Shawn Elliott.

Smith was Cedar Grove’s head coach the past six seasons and compiled a record of 67-14-1. Cedar Grove this past season became the first DeKalb County school to reach four straight semifinals.

Smith has coached six prep All-Americans, and more than 30 of his former student-athletes have gone on to play at the college level .Among those are  2018 all-classification player of the year Jadon Haselwood (Oklahoma), Rashad Cheney (Minnesota), Justin Shaffer (Georgia), Netori Johnson (Georgia) and Bryson Allen-Williams (South Carolina) and Antwuan Jackson (Ohio State).

Smith came to Cedar Grove in 2007, originally as a receivers coach. He became offensive coordinator in 2010.

Smith began his coaching career at Darlington (S.C.) High, his alma mater, where he spent one season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Smith was a quarterback at Tennessee State, helping the school to the Ohio Valley Conference titles in 1998 and 1999. 

Smith is among several top Georgia high school coaches who have joined college staffs in recent years. Last month, Joey King left Cartersville, where he won state titles in 2015 and 2016, to join the staff at Coastal Carolina.

Others who have won state titles and taken college jobs are Buford’s Jess Simpson, now a defensive line coach at Miami; Grayson’s Mickey Conn, a secondary coach at Clemson; Carver-Columbus’s Dell McGee, an assistant head coach and running backs coach at Georgia.

Cedar Grove is the second 2018 state champion to have a job opening. Clinch County’s Jim Dickerson retired after winning the Class A private-school title and was replaced by Don Tison Jr. from his staff.

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