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‘We are really going to miss him’: Friends, colleagues reflect on Ryan Smith

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:52 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Sunday afternoon, the Tallahassee community received unexpected news that Florida High offensive line coach Ryan Smith passed away at the age of 32.

The coaches and administrators who worked with Smith all said he was a genuine person.

“You know, shocked,” said Jarrod Hickman, head football coach at Florida High. “I don’t think anybody expected to hear anything about that. I think they thought the meeting was going to be about COVID and what’s going on in the weight room.”

Most recently, the Miami-native coached under Hickman, who broke the news to the team last night.

“The group that Ryan worked with,” Hickman said, “You could tell immediately that those guys were hit by it pretty hard.”

In 2016, Smith finished his graduate degree at Florida A&M and wanted to get back into high school football.

“I went out to dinner with him and really got to know him,” Florida High Athletic Director Tyrone McGirff said.

McGriff thought Smith would be a good fit and made the recommendation to Hickman.

“One of the best coaching choices I’ve made, just off of his character,” McGriff said. “He is one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet.”

Before his time at Florida High, Smith spent time coaching at Godby High School, where he worked alongside Brandon McCray.

“We’ve got several of our seniors that just graduated and some of the young guys that had a really good relationship, primarily our offensive linemen, with coach Smith,” McCray said. “They kept that relationship, even though he was over at Florida High.”

McCray said Smith was a family man through and through.

”He was an amazing father,” McCray said. “An amazing husband. Just an amazing person. He talked about them so much. How he loved them and cherished them. You know, we are really going to miss him.”

Smith, a huge Miami Hurricanes fan, was remembered by Miami head coach Manny Diaz tweeting, “Sad to lose one of Miami’s own. The U family wraps our embrace around Ryan’s family.”

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