Kirby Paul Smart was born Dec. 23, 1975 in Montgomery, Alabama. Smart graduated from Bainbridge (Ga.) High School. His HS coach was his dad, Sonny Smart. Smart played football at Georgia from 1995-98 and graduated with an undergraduate business degree in 1998. He earned a master's degree from Florida State in 2003. Smart was a first-team All-SEC choice as a senior at Georgia in 1998. A safety, Smart intercepted 13 passes while playing for the Bulldogs. Smart intercepted six passes as a junior and five as

Smart embracing high expectations in coming season

Expectations are high in Athens this fall. What else is new.

“I went back and reviewed my notes for this event (last year), and it was the same thing,” Smart said at Tuesday’s at SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame and Omni Atlanta Hotel. “‘Georgia is expected to do this, to win the East, to win championships.’ Those are things that we embrace at the University of Georgia. We can’t run from those things.”

As opposed to running from it, Smart is hammering that message home to his team.

“We talk to our players all the time that pressure is really a privilege,” Smart said. “You should feel privileged to have pressure to win games, to have expectations.”

Smart — just as everyone in the room — understands his team was mere minutes, plays a year ago from striking a drastically different tone. His team is the defending conference champion. He knows “defending national champions” just has a different ring to it.

It does little, however, to alter the pressure cooker that Smart and Georgia are under to meet those endless expectations. Anything short of competing for an SEC and national title will be considered a disappointment.

“This season for us is going to be simple,” Smart said, breaking starkly from coach jargon to provide some clarity. “It’s going to be the measure of potential versus effectiveness. And when I say that, a lot of people are like ‘Yeah, every team has a certain amount of potential.’ I think potential is dormant ability. I think effectiveness is what we get out of our potential.”

For years in Athens, dormant ability superseded results on the field. Georgia has boasted a top-10 recruiting class nationally each year since 2013 — and interminable recruiting prowess extends far longer. “Potential” has never been the issue.

Last season was the Bulldogs’ first SEC title since 2005 and the first national-title appearance since 1982. Georgia returns its star freshman quarterback, several integral pieces on offense and defense, and welcomes the top recruiting class in the country 

Last season was the taste. Fans expect that and more in 2018.

Kirby Smart isn’t running from that. He’s leaning in.

Georgia linebacker D'Andre Walker recorded 40 tackles in 2017, tied for seventh on the team, but ranked second in tackles for loss (13.5) and in sacks (5.5). Defensive back J.R. Reed recorded 79 tackles in 2017, second on the team behind Roquan Smith, who left for the NFL. Reed also recorded five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions. Cornerback Deandre Baker ranks second among 2018 returning players in tackles and interceptions in 2017. Linebacker Monty Rice recorded 22 tackles as a freshman
Quarterback Jake Fromm excelled as a freshman in the 2017 season, passing for 2,615 yards and completing 62.2 percent of his passes. Running back D’Andre Swift ranked third in rushing yards in 2017 (618) and leads all returning players in that category. Wide receiver Terry Godwin caught 38 passes in 2017, second on the team behind senior Javon Wims. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman caught 25 passes in 2017, ranking third on the team. Wide receiver Riley Ridley caught 14 passes in 2017. He caught six of the 1

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