ATHENS — Kirby Smart treats his players and staff like family, but beyond that, the Georgia head coach does indeed have his nuclear family in the literal sense of the word.
The Georgia Twitter account recently posted a heartwarming video of Smart racing his 8-year-old son, Andrew, during a beach trip.
Big summer V I B E Z with @KirbySmartUGA 🌴
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) July 11, 2020
Smart’s victory dash in the sand could be more impressive than first glance, based on David Pollack’s glowing assessment of Andrew’s athletic potential.
Pollack, the most decorated defensive player in Georgia history and a Smart confidant, raved about a touchdown Smart’s son scored in 8-under-football last season.
“His son Boogie took a reverse against AYO Lions …. and he broke very tackle on the field, like 10 tackles, took it to the house,” Pollack said on a recent ESPN podcast, recalling an 8U game last season for his North Oconee youth team.
Smart’s recollection of his son’s highlight play was different, and much more modest.
“I was leaving, I’d watched their offense go backwards the entire day, and one of the coaches said, ‘wait, we’re going to give it to Boogie, one more play,’ ” Smart said. “So I stopped and waited — I was trying to get back to the office, it was on a Sunday, I was trying to get back and watch the next opponent — and they handed him a reverse and it looked like the team was fake-tackling.
“It was like the movie when they dive and they intentionally miss? Every guy dove and left their feet, it was the worse tackling exhibition I’d ever seen and he scored a touchdown. That was the highlight of his season.”
Smart said Andrew’s nickname, “Boogie” has to do with his energy — in line with the definition of the word, which is to dance, or move quickly.
“If you ever met him you’d understand, he’s a Boogie, he’s just always moving, always on the run,” Smart said, “and that name just kinda stuck, He’s a mess, I promise you that.”
No doubt, earlier during the pandemic, Smart was conducting a video interview with Laura Rutledge with Andrew anxiously awaiting an opportunity to show something to his father.
— Laura Rutledge (@LauraRutledge) April 9, 2020
Smart has two older children, 12-year-old twins Westin and Julia, though they have not gone viral this offseason like Andrew.
The COVID-19 pandemic, while leading to more people working at home around family members, has also presented challenges for travel and in-person visits with older, more at-risk members of communities.
Smart spoke about that in the spring, and how it kept him from visiting with his parents in the months after the start of the pandemic.
“I haven’t been able to visit with my mom and dad for safety purposes, they’re both in a vulnerable population, and I’m probably no different than a lot of people my age that have their parents still and fortunate enough to have them and be able to spend time with them,” Smart said in the May interview.
“But they haven’t been able to get close to their grandkids and see them. I want to do what they’re comfortable with and what makes them safe. That’s been an experience.
“It’s been new for all of us and tough. Everybody has to make their own choices and decisions, and that’s been one of the experiences of this that has been frustrating certainly.”
Now, with his players back on campus and UGA on the verge of workouts and practices that football staff can oversee, Smart’s mood has seemingly elevated.
“It’s hard on coaches, because that’s what we do, our relationships is what make or job so important to us,” Smart said on a recent ESPN podcast. “So when these kids aren’t here and they are back at home, it’s tough on us from a communications standpoint.
“So having those guys back around, being able to share time on Zoom still and interact with them, I know they’ve enjoyed being a part of all this, and being back.”
There are indeed many facets to what’s known as “Georgia football family,” and recently, thanks to young Andrew, more parts of it have been on display.
Georgia football on campus