By: Ryan Kelly | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
August 9, 2019
MONTICELLO, Fla. (WCTV) -- 15 days from Thursday, Jefferson County was slated to host their season-opening game against St. John Paul II. But as the sun set Thursday, the field held more questions than answers.
"It all came out of nowhere; he showed up this morning like a regular day and then just gets called up to the office and about five minutes later comes back with an athletic director and dean of students telling us the bad news and the whole team was just really riled up," said Jefferson County quarterback Jordan Elliott. "We were all upset, crying, mad. I cried."
A roster of players, some who even transfered this year to play for Leory Smith, were given only a quick notice and a quick goodbye for a man so many of them consider a mentor.
A coach who got the Tigers to believe in themselves again.
"A lot of people were upset too," added Brian Crumity, a defensive lineman. "They didn't understand what was going on. We didn't get an explanation about what happened."
"He basically played a huge role in a lot of kids' lives," Liroy Travis, a Tiger linebacker, said. "He changed the community, he gave back to the community. We actually went back to churches and gave back to them as well and basically he's a game changer. He gave us hope that many coaches didn't give us."
With no word on what led to Smith's dismissal, one thing is for sure; his players want him back.
"No matter what happens, I'm always going to love and respect you."
"I'd tell him I love him and thank you in advance for everything that he's done for me and if there's anything I could do just let me know."
"Please come back. We need you."
And, more than anything, they want an answer.