Barnhart appreciates Chuck Smith contribution

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart knows Chuck Smith took a calculated risk when he left the powerhouse football program he had put together at Boyle County High School in Danville, Ky., to become linebackers coach at UK, his alma mater.

Smith had led Boyle to six straight state championship game appearances that included five straight state titles. He had coached current Indianapolis Colts tight end Jacob Tamme and placekicker Taylor Begley, who both starred at UK. He had sent brothers Bobby and Travis Leffew to big-time careers at Louisville.

"Chuck is a wonderful man. With his background in high school coaching in our state and his desire to come work on a college staff, it was a little bit of a no-brainer for Kentucky to put him on our staff," said Barnhart.

Smith is now also UK's recruiting coordinator after helping the Wildcats go to three straight bowl games and have three straight winning seasons.

"I think he is obviously well respected by our players. He has a great heart for people. I think that makes it a good fit in a lot of different ways for us. Obviously, I would defer to coach (Rich) Brooks on all the coaching aspects of it, but from a personal perspective he is wonderful to have in our program. It is great to have a guy who understands UK and bleeds Kentucky blue. It means so much for him to be on our staff," Barnhart said.

Especially since not every coach may have taken the chance Smith did when the Cats were struggling and he could have waited for another college job. However, Barnhart knows Smith wanted to be at Kentucky, believed in Brooks and was confident enough to believe the Cats could be successful.

"He came at a time when having success here was pretty questionable. He took a chance. It was pretty risky at that point in time. I am glad for his sake, and ours, that is has worked out and he has got to a spot he can enjoy that opportunity. He deserves that," Barnhart said.

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