Tennessee offensive lineman Trey Smith is grateful for his years in Knoxville, but he hopes fans know how thankful he is for them.
His legacy at Tennessee will be told in many different ways. But for Smith, he wants folks to know how much he cares for his university. He’s said many times that he doesn’t know if he’d still be playing football if he had gone to another school and dealt with his problems. Everything this young man has been through will leave a lasting mark on how Tennessee fans view the man, not the football player.
“I want people to think that I’m a guy who cared about his university, cared about playing football here, and loves this school. He didn’t let adversity stop him from becoming what he’s going to be one day. When I say that, I mean being successful, having a football career, receiving my degree as I already did, and playing on the next level. At the end of the day, last year and even two years ago, nobody thought that I would be standing at this podium. Nobody thought that I would still be talked about. Nobody thought that I’d still be playing football. (It’s about) bringing that level of toughness every day, not really caring what other people say, but just coming to work, believing in God, believing in myself and believing in what I’m supposed to be.”
Trey Smith has been through the highs and lows during his time at Tennessee. Smith was asked what moments he will remember the most during his time on the playing field.
“I would say my first game ever here when we played Georgia Tech. That was really cool. I think we went into overtime. Winning that game in the fashion that we did, was a really cool moment for me, especially being a freshman. I think we were the second game to be played in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. That was a really cool moment. I can’t really narrow it down to two. I’ll probably say three. Beating Auburn on the road in 2018, a game nobody expected us to win, and then won the South Carolina game last year in that fashion. That was a ton of fun.”
His medical issues that he dealt with during his time in Tennessee would be a struggle for most men. But Smith is different because of the way he attacked them head-on during his time in Knoxville. He never made excuses, never folded under pressure, and decided to return this season to honor his mother. He received his degree from Tennessee while also putting in the effort to let NFL scouts know his medical condition wouldn’t hold him back. Smith discussed the areas in which he improved the most this season.
“That’s pretty simple. If you look at my medical situation, which is one of the main factors of why I returned, I think I’ve definitely nullified any issues with that. I’ve been practicing more. Obviously, I’m playing a full season without any major injuries or issues. My medical situation is absolutely perfect and clear. I think I’ve improved my stock and have taken those ‘what ifs’ off the table even more with NFL teams in the future.”
The culmination of his college career on Saturday will be a proving point for the ones that wrote off Trey. No matter what obstacles are thrown your way, if you believe in yourself and the people around you, you will have the chance to succeed.
Trey Smith did that; he succeeded. He gave his all for Tennessee, on and off the field.
The day I knew Trey Smith would be special was three years ago. Drew Richmond and Smith had put together a dinner for the homeless in downtown Knoxville, next to the Salvation Army. It was a cold night, but one ill never forget. As Trey and his teammates were making dinner plates and passing out winter clothes to the ones in need, I noticed something. Trey was handing out a pair of socks to an older gentleman, who I could tell was struggling.
Smith looked at the gentleman and said, “Thank you for coming out, take anything you need, get you an extra plate.”
All I could think about was that this young man would be special, no matter what he did on the field. He gave his all for Tennessee, and many are just thankful to have been a small part of his time in Knoxville.