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HERALD EXCLUSIVE: Ex-OC Smith a candidate to resume old job at Albany State

Steve Smith was the offensive coordinator at Albany State from 2009-11 and is a leading candidate to take over his old job and replace Uyl Joyner, who stepped down this spring.

Steve Smith was the offensive coordinator at Albany State from 2009-11 and is a leading candidate to take over his old job and replace Uyl Joyner, who stepped down this spring.

ALBANY — Albany State expects to officially name its new offensive coordinator next week, and it could end up being a familiar face to the Rams program.

Several sources have told The Herald that former Rams offensive coordinator Steve Smith is a candidate to return to his job after being away from the program for two seasons.

Neither Smith nor head coach Mike White would confirm an impending hire, but sources associated with the team and school believe that Smith is the leading candidate.

Smith spent last season as an assistant offensive line coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, and if he takes the job at ASU he will replace Uyl Joyner, who stepped down as ASU’s offensive coordinator in the spring to take a similar job at Dougherty High.

When reached by The Herald on Saturday, Smith, who had immense success in his two years at ASU, said he couldn’t comment on the possibility of returning to the school.

“I can say that Albany State is a great school, and it’s a great opportunity for whoever gets to be offensive coordinator there,” he said. “My time at Albany State was great.”

Smith is one of several candidates being considered for the job, and sources told The Herald that he has visited the ASU campus numerous times during the hiring process.

In May, White told The Herald that Smith wasn’t “currently in the picture,” but the long-time head coach of the Rams did say he still kept in touch with his former offensive coordinator.

“I talk to him all the time,” White said in May. “I definitely had a good relationship with him when he was here and valued his opinion.”

Smith left Albany State in March of 2011 to take over as the offensive line coach at Tennessee State, a Division I program in Nashville. He then was hired by the Chiefs and spent one season in the NFL before being let go by the team after Romeo Crennel was fired and Andy Reid took over as head coach in January, bringing much of his staff with him from his former head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Smith interviewed with Detroit and Oakland for offensive line coaching positions but wasn’t hired by either NFL team.

Earlier this year, ASU offensive line coach Lawrence Livingston was let go, seemingly opening the door for Smith to double up as the offensive coordinator and line coach as he did at ASU from 2009-11.

Smith originally came to ASU in 2009 from Delta State to replace Donald Pittman as offensive coordinator, and in just two years he led the Rams’ offense to new heights.

He installed the “Gold Rush” offense and had two quarterbacks — A.J. McKenna (2009) and Stanley Jennings (2010) — both win conference MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards.

ASU went 19-4 in Smith’s two years — 8-3 in 2009 and 11-1 in 2010 — and the offense was ranked in the Top 10 in numerous categories in Division II and No. 1 in the conference.

In his second year at ASU, the team went 10-0 in the regular season, advanced to the Division II quarterfinals and was named SBN Black College National Champions.

Whoever takes over the ASU offense will inherit a group that had one of its worst seasons in years in 2012 and was a big reason the Rams finished 6-4 and missed the Division II playoffs for the first time since an NCAA postseason ban was lifted in 2004.

Playing with senior Division I transfer David Kooi under center, ASU finished outside of the Top 100 in every major offensive statistical category.

Kooi’s replacement will likely be junior quarterback Frank Rivers, who transferred to Albany State from Division I Grambling State and told The Herald this week that he thinks he and a new offensive coordinator can make the Rams a threat on offense once again.

“After working out with the team, I know the defense will be pretty stout this year,” he said. “We have upperclassmen who are returning, so if we can just put some numbers up on offense I know our defense will put us in a position to win every time.”