Gruden calls for Smith invite
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
September 29, 2013 01:00 AM | 2554 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Osborne’s Xarvia Smith was invited to meet with ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden.
<BR>Special photo by Cecil Copeland
Osborne’s Xarvia Smith was invited to meet with ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden.
Special photo by Cecil Copeland
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Osborne coach Xarvia Smith is a big Warren Sapp fan. And though he’s never met the former NFL All-Pro and Hall of Fame defensive tackle, Smith will get the opportunity to meet his coach.

Smith was contacted Thursday by former Super Bowl-winning coach and current “Monday Night Football” analyst Jon Gruden and invited to a reception Saturday at a restaurant in downtown Atlanta.

The meeting will also include other metro-Atlanta coaches as Forest Park’s John Diehl, Towers’ James Holloway and Therrell’s Dominic Callaway. Smith said that following the reception, Gruden will talk about more football-related topics and answer questions that the coaches have.

“He’s a great coach. He won a Super Bowl and I’m excited to meet him,” Smith said. “I want to talk football with him and get his opinion on some things.

“He’s already helped me just by giving me a call. Whatever he does, we’re going to be thankful and grateful. Just to meet him is going to be an honor.”

Gruden, who won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 season, will be in town this week ahead of the Oct. 7 game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets. It will be an opportunity for Smith to interact with a knowledgeable coach who has taught at all levels, including high school and college as well as the pros.

“I just want to ask him some quarterback questions and some scheme things that he gets to see, and that he’s seen, and ask him how he feels about it,” Smith said. “I want to ask him about Warren Sapp. I’m a big Warren Sapp fan and I’ll ask how did it feel to work with him and Derrick Brooks. It should be a fun evening.”

Smith said he will also bring his coaching staff and a few of his senior players.

“The players I’m going to take will depend on their play on Friday against Pope,” Smith said. “I’m definitely going to take some seniors, though.”

Smith thought Gruden’s initial call was a prank. He still wasn’t convinced after he spoke with a manager at the Hooters where Saturday’s meeting will take place, so he finally called back to the number Gruden gave him.

“I hadn’t received a prank call before,” Smith said. “I just thought that it was a prank or someone trying to scam me. Immediately, I knew the voice as soon as he started talking, but I got worried because I was thinking, how did he get my number?

“I called Hooters, and they said they work with Gruden on some things with ‘Monday Night Football’, but I still didn’t believe it. I called the cell phone number back that he gave me (Thursday), and after we introduced ourselves, he started talking like we were friends. Then, I knew, this was for real.”

Smith said he was contacted because he knows some coaches that are good friends with Gruden. Gruden likes to speak with coaches of high school programs that are making progress despite not having as much funding as perennially powerful schools.

“They thought I was a good coach and a good person, and they thought (Gruden) should help me out and help our school out,” Smith said. “He said he wanted to meet me and get to know me and see what I was about. He said he could help us out.”

Osborne, which hasn’t had a winning season since 1994, is 2-2 on the year. The day before Smith is scheduled to meet with Gruden, the Cardinals will travel to Pope for their first Region 7AAAAA game.

“I’ve been blessed,” Smith said. “I got to meet Michael Vick and worked his camp for two years. I’ve had three guys play in the NFL, and now I get to meet a Super Bowl champion. That’s pretty exciting. I’ve been very blessed as a coach. I have no complaints.”
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