THOMASVILLE — Loran Smith is coming to Thomasville to do what he does best, talk about Georgia football.

A former Bulldogs track star and longtime radio sideline reporter for the football team, Smith will be speaking at a United Way luncheon at The Plaza on Sept. 6.

“The board of directors is very excited to have Loran Smith come speak,” said Rebecca Cannady, executive director of the United Way, “especially a person of his caliber.”

“Over the course of the year, I speak several times, I guess, at Rotary clubs, service clubs, that kind of thing. I do maybe 10 or 12 a year,” Smith said.

With the Bulldogs’ season set to begin in a little more than two weeks, the talk of red and black can be expected, among other things.

“I grew up on a farm,” said Smith, a native of Wrightsville, the hometown of legendary Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker. “I like down-home stories, stories about things that I have an interest in — World War II, reading. I usually just sort of organize something a couple of days ahead. I’m not a serious speaker. I’m not an expert on anything.”

Smith’s expertise rests with Bulldogs football. He has been working the Bulldogs sideline since 1974 and is co-host of Georgia’s pre-game “Tailgate Show” and head coach Mark Richt’s post-game show. While he is uncertain of what the future holds for the Bulldogs this year, Smith has come to never doubt the Bulldogs’ head coach.

“(Richt) doesn’t say we’ll win them all, but I’ve learned to believe in him,” said Smith.“I just believe we’ve got good players, a good recruiting base and coach Richt has put together a really good program. He’s got a good staff. I think we can compete, but I don’t see how the competition could have been any tougher as it is today.

“For a long time, I thought the SEC East was the toughest conference in college football. South Carolina’s quite ambitious under (head coach Steve) Spurrier. We have such a tough finishing situation, Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech.”

Smith is the author of several books, including “Finish the Drill”, the inside story of Georgia’s 2002 SEC championship season, “Wally’s Boys”, the story of Wallace Butts’ years as Bulldogs head coach and “Let the Big Dawg Eat” (with wife Myrna), a cookbook of tailgate recipes. Smith was elected to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 and is a past chairman of the hall.

While Smith has a distinguished resumé, Thomasville residents will soon discover his lighter side.

“I enjoy people, and I enjoy seeing people laugh and have a good time, so I sort of stick to humor as much as I can,” said Smith.

Cannady said reservations are a must and those wishing to attend can call 228-0560.

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