Smith poses with head coach Dabo Swinney during practice for the Cotton Bowl.
Emory Smith might be known outside of South Carolina as the brother of former Florida star Gator and Dallas Cowboys Emmitt Smith, but to Clemson fans, Smith will always be known as the man who dragged a Gamecock across the field.
Smith played for the Tigers from 1993-96, running 358 times for 1,568 yards (4.4 average) and 25 touchdowns. Smith also caught 15 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. After playing with the NFL Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys practice squads, he played with Scottish Claymores in the NFL Europe during the 1999 season. Smith is currently a loan officer at Inlanta Mortgsge.
However, he was the offensive MVP of the 1993 Peach Bowl and is known to these parties for his 56-yard rumble in the 38-17 victory over South Carolina in 1995. Smith took an internal transfer, broke midfield, and then, with Gamecock defender Terry Cousin lying on his back, he rumbled the rest of the way within 10. Later he finished the run with a touchdown.
TigerNet caught up with Smith recently to reflect on his career.
You were in Clemson during a time when the Tigers were good, but not necessarily great …
“When I got to Clemson, I got there in ’92, we were a number 5 recruiting class in the nation at that particular time. And we had some good players. We had some really good players, but I think we were trying to find our Clemson identity. We were in the middle of the transition between Ken Hatfield and then Coach (Tommy) West came in. And it was just a period of transition. And then we had good athletes. We had great athletes. I just think what is happening now is that they finally found the right option for the program. And what I mean by that is a great leader in Dabo Swinney.
“The university always supported the soccer team and the soccer players and everything. But I was just trying to find the right one for the head coach. Because even when I was there, Danny Ford He was the example of a winning coach because he had won the national championship. So I think that when I entered, even though it was a transition period, there were many schools, for example, like the state of Florida, that were executing this extended offense. And we were still in triple-option I-training mode. And that time period was moving much faster for Clemson. But they finally caught up with him. Dabo is really doing incredible work, incredible work. And it started with coach (Tommy) Bowden. Because even when Coach Bowden came in, they were winning. They tended to climb, and Dabo simply led them to the top. And the program has really changed a lot. He really has. “
When was the last time you were here?
“Let me see. I was in Greenville earlier this year for the Clemson ONE Golf Tournament. But the last time I was in Clemson was last year at the Texas A&M soccer game. I came for the Texas A&M soccer game They took a tour of the facility and I talked to some of the first-year athletes that were there. First-year soccer players, I think they were freshmen in red shirts. And my God! I couldn’t be more proud and happier.
“That weight room is four times the size I worked on, and the access they have is really incredible. It is first class. It is first class. That was the last time I got up. They hugged me like one of their own. ‘Hey, I was a former player. I am part of the family. Which really made me feel good because I hadn’t come back in a long time before because I live in Dallas. And it was difficult for me to return. I will never forget when I returned to Pensacola, they called me and asked me to come back and be an honorary captain for the South Carolina game. But I couldn’t do it because I was in transition. I just made the transition here. I was literally on the way back from Pensacola, and I couldn’t make it that weekend. I was so upset. I love going back to Clemson. I really do. Now, I’ve made the mission to come back at least twice a year. Or come to one of the games. “
Would you like Florida and Clemson to play each other so that you and Emmitt can talk a little?
“Please please please please please. The only thing he’s talking about is SEC football. Florida Gators this, Florida Gators that. That’s all he’s talking about. I’m like, ‘Okay. You all want nothing. from this heat. We have the lease for you. I would love to see that too. I love to see it. So yeah. That will be great. Because I have a brother Eric who went to the state of Florida. Me and him, we really didn’t talk much “We wish each other good luck. But man! Me and him, we do it once in a while. So yeah. We do. Let’s do it. Let’s do it. But it’s all fun and love.”
“For a time there, the SEC was quite successful. But now, Clemson is definitely on top of Mount Rushmore college football. It really cannot be argued with the decade of success that Clemson has had. Really, 10 consecutive years of more than 10 victories, always competing for the national university soccer championship. And the respect and brand that has grown in this country are there for Clemson. And you couldn’t be prouder of Clemson University. But when you have that kind of success, everyone wants to be a part of it. And not only is it a success, but we also have a great university there. A great university that has a network throughout the country. So no matter where I go, I can find a Clemson graduate, the Clemson network, someone who loves Clemson. ”
What are some of the games that stand out to you?
“In my first year I was the MVP for the Peach Bowl. We play Kentucky. That was a good game. That was a great game. I had a good game that game. And the play that comes to mind was when Patrick Sapp tossed me the screen pass and set us up to win the game.
“And I loved playing South Carolina every year. I loved playing it because that game right there just did something to me. I do not know. She just did something to me. I loved playing them. Every game I played against South Carolina, I think I had a pretty decent game. And so, once, everyone called it the right plow, where I carried Cousins and drugged him for about five, 10 yards. I was trying to score. I was trying a touchdown. So those two games there, those were really the good games that stuck in my mind, as far as I’m concerned, being successful. And a Wake Forest game. I think I had four touchdowns in one game against Wake Forest.
“But most of the time, I remember the details of the game that people don’t really remember. Because we played Georgia Tech at Georgia Tech, and my brother came to the game. And I didn’t have a good game running a ball. But I had a great blocking game. I was facing Keith Brooking, and he was tearing his ass apart. I remember that. I tore it apart. After the game, he came up to me like, ‘Brother, you have to relax. You have to slow down. I was like, ‘Nah. It will be like this all day.
“I think Raymond Priester had a very good game that game. So my success at Clemson can be attributed to Raymond Priester. Because Raymond was a downhill runner, a good runner. And we used to talk in the group like, ‘Okay. Follow me. ‘ And he said, ‘Okay, E. I’m on my back. I have my back. I used to talk to him and say, ‘Okay. I’m going to kick them out because he’s playing outside. So I’m going to kick it out, but you’re just cut below me. And he said, ‘It’s okay. Well, I’m going to take the outer shoulder when you come in front of me.
“We just talked like that. We had that kind of chemistry where we communicated, and he knew where he was going to block. It got to the point where he would look at me and say, ‘Okay.’ He would know which shoulder he was going to attack and he would know where to run. We just had that kind of chemistry. And it’s great to have that kind of chemistry as a runner and fullback. But that was it.
“I just loved blocking. I loved the lock. When I first came to Clemson, I didn’t like it that much. But it grew on me. It grew on me because it was all about attitude right now. It was about attitude, and we just ran downhill. I-training downhill. Throw sweep, isolation. We were all downhill. We had big boys up front, from Jim Bundren to Will Young to Glenn Rountree. Those big boys leaned on people. And we would just go downhill. They were driving people out of the way, and I was going in and looking for linebackers, cleaning linebackers. And then they were paving the way for Raymond and me. We were really strong to run the ball. I think we were in the top 10 to rush through the years I was at Clemson. ”
Who was the best player you played with at Clemson?
Clemson’s best player? I think the best player Clemson came from is Brian Dawkins. That was my roommate. His statistics speak for themselves. He is a member of the Hall of Fame, a good, good man, a good friend. A good godly Christian. Very hard working, dedicated and motivated and motivated. Brian Dawkins is by far the best player I played with that came from Clemson, IMO. He probably won’t get much recognition because he’s on the defensive side of the ball. But Brian Dawkins was the man. Here’s a guy who came in, wasn’t even rated. I think he was like a two-star athlete. And he had to fight to gain weight. I remember late, two, three in the morning, eating a peanut butter jam sandwich just to gain weight, just to gain weight. But that’s the epitome of a hard-working, dedicated, focused, and motivated worker. Attitude. That kind of attitude that will not let anyone stop you from achieving your goals. The guy worked hard. And every Sunday we used to run. And on Sundays after the game, we used to run. And, people used to be so mad at him because he would scold us. We would say, ‘Man, don’t do it. Slow down.’ And he said: ‘No. You guys catch up. That was his kind of attitude. “
What is keeping Emory Smith busy these days?
“I am a mortgage consultant, a loan officer. I love what I’m doing. Getting people approved to buy a home. It is gratifying for me when I receive the thanks at the closing table. The financial literacy that I provide when I get people’s approval, the credit literacy that I apply to get people’s approval, makes me feel like I’m financially preparing people for their future. So that’s what I do now. “
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