ON SPORTS: Brotherly love evident at Bay City football camp
May 23, 2012 at 12:23 a.m.
Updated May 24, 2012 at 12:24 a.m.
Mike Smith remembers sitting with his family in the living room of their Bay City home talking about the far-fetched idea of a football camp to pay tribute to his late older brother.
Smith will travel from Houston and will be at Bay City's Memorial Stadium on Saturday morning as the Andrew Smith Jr. Football Camp is held for the eighth year.
"It's crazy," Smith said. "You start out with an idea. To see it go from an idea to something that people look forward to is amazing. I'm so happy that I can provide my energy for the project."
Smith, who turned 22 in April, recently graduated from Rice and is currently training in hopes of landing a spot in a NFL or CFL training camp.
The 6-foot-1, 290-pound Smith was an all-state lineman at Bay City before starting 32 consecutive games for the Owls at defensive tackle or nose guard.
"The hard part is having the patience to wait on the call," he said. "You have to push yourself to stay in shape and keep the grand goal in mind of why you are doing it."
Smith enjoyed his Rice career, even though the Owls didn't have as much success on the field as he would have liked.
"Rice takes pride in being different," Smith said. "It's a bit of an adjustment. It's more of an adjustment than other places. But once you make the adjustment, it's another experience you're glad to be part of."
Smith earned a degree in sports medicine and psychology and hopes to coach on the college or pro level, but still has the desire to play.
"I was fortunate enough to be healthy for three straight years," said Smith, who overcame a knee injury he suffered as a true freshman. "To get to the college level and to start and be a team leader and have the opportunity to be considered good enough to play at the next level is very rewarding."
Smith credits much of the football success he's enjoyed to his older brother.
Andrew Smith Jr. started at quarterback at Bay City and threw for 2,281 yards and 23 touchdowns while leading the Blackcats to the 2000 Class 4A, Division I state championship as a senior.
He went to North Texas where, as a redshirt freshman, he threw for 1,206 yards and led the Mean Green to a 24-19 win over Cincinnati in the 2002 New Orleans Bowl.
He became the first quarterback in school history to go undefeated in conference, win a conference championship, and a bowl game in the same season.
Smith died in a car wreck on his way back to North Texas for fall practice in August of 2004.
"He was my older brother so of course he was my mentor," Smith said. "I'm very proud of my brother and try to be like him in everything I do. There are a lot of ways from my work ethic and my attitude. He told me to do your best, give your best and your best will come up. That had a lasting impact on me."
Smith enjoys the chance to carry on his brother's legacy with campers and help out the Andrew Smith Jr. Foundation, which uses proceeds from the camp to fund scholarships.
"I get to teach some valuable skills of football," he said. "I look forward to working with the older kids and teaching them things I learned on the college level. We go over every aspect of football. Not only mentally, but even physically."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.