ON SPORTS: Love of family, football comes to fore at Bay City camp
May 28, 2013 at 12:28 a.m.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco went to Disney World after being named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII.
Mike Smith hopes to go from Disney World to the NFL.
Smith had an internship at the Orlando, Fla., resort last summer after earning degrees in sports medicine and psychology from Rice University.
But the Bay City graduate wasn't ready to give up on football after playing in 32 consecutive games for the Owls at defensive tackle or nose guard.
Smith started working out at the National Training Center with former New York Giants linebacker Kevin Lewis, and landed a spot with the Knoxville NightHawks of the Professional Indoor Football League.
"He played and he understood that film was the main thing I needed moving forward in my career," said Smith, who turned 23 in April. "This is a good opportunity to get that film."
The 6-foot-1, 295-pound Smith plays defensive end for an arena football team, and is working on improving his pass rushing skills.
"It's the same principles," he said. "The only difference is it's a lot quicker. The time and route concepts are a lot quicker so that gives you less time to do what you need to do."
Smith has played in six games this season and has 9.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks and has broken up one pass.
"You have to be more efficient," he said. "Things are moving a lot quicker. You don't have that much time. There can't be any sort of wasted motion. It really refines your technique as far as the outdoor game goes."
Smith has had some feelers from Arena Football League teams and could join one after the NightHawks' season ends.
"I want to put a highlight tape together and get it to as many teams as possible," he said. "When I started, I gave myself two go arounds unless there's something that tells me to compete further. That's not necessarily signing with someone, but it might be an invite to a camp that will keep me going. Then, it's time to get on my college coaching path."
Smith will take advantage of an open week to return to Bay City for Saturday's Andrew Smith Jr. Football Camp.
The camp was started by Andrew Smith Sr. and his family and is in its ninth season.
The camp pays tribute to Mike Smith's older brother, Andrew Smith Jr., who died in a car wreck on his way back to North Texas for fall practice in August of 2004.
Andrew Smith Jr. started at quarterback for Bay City and threw for 2,281 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior when the Blackcats won the 2000 Class 4A, Division I state championship.
As a redshirt freshman at North Texas, Andrew Smith Jr. 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 North Texas history to go undefeated in conference, win a conference championship, and a bowl game in the same season.
"It doesn't seem like it's been going that long," Mike Smith said of the camp, which is open to boys ages 6-17 and awards college scholarships with the proceeds. "Being from the area and understanding the culture of football is very strong not only in Bay City but in Matagorda County, Brazoria and Wharton and just in Texas in general. I feel the community has a stake in it."
Mike Smith has been working on the camp since January and appreciates the help he receives from former players and coaches at every level of the game.
This year's camp will feature a 7-on-7 tournament and a linemen challenge to attract a bigger high school crowd.
"This is a great opportunity to help a young man or young woman get an education," Smith said, "and also help a child get better at the game of football."
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.