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22 days to Gator football! #22 Emmitt Smith

Discussion in 'Gator Football' started by Escambia94, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. Escambia94

    Escambia94 Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE) Moderator

    #22 Emmitt James Smith III was born the second of five children in a podunk town in the panhandle of Florida called Pensacola. “Scoey” started scooting about the football field while he was a young lad growing up in the Attucks Court projects of Pensacola. As an 8-year old, Scoey took his first carry in Pop Warner football to the house on a 70-yard scamper. Not bad for a kid that was too small and too slow to play Pop Warner! This slow, short tailback continued to amaze the masses at Salvation Army and Bellview until he caught the eye of coach Dwight Thomas at Escambia high school. Coach Thomas never considered starting a freshman, especially a small, slow one like Emmitt…until he saw the kid in action. Here in Pensacola, Emmitt is remembered for wearing orange and blue jersey #24 for the Escambia Gators, not #22. Coach Thomas’ gamble on the freshman paid out as Emmitt rushed for 106 touchdowns and 8,804 yards (second most yardage in the history of American high school football at the time) and led Escambia to back-to-back state championships in 1984 and 1985. He rushed for over 100 yards in 45 of the 49 games he started for Escambia and finished with a 7.8 yards per carry average. Smith was named the USA Today and Parade magazine high school player of the year for 1986. Despite the accolades, prominent scouts still chided him for being too small and too slow. Emmitt was heavily recruited by Pat Dye of Auburn (the other orange and blue), Bobby Bowden of Florida State (the other Florida college), and Tom Osborne of Nebraska. Thankfully, Emmitt elected to attend the University of Florida despite ongoing NCAA sanctions against the Gators.

    Under Galen Hall, Emmitt did not start his first two games as a Gator, but he exploded onto the scene with a 66-yard touchdown run, 109 yards total in 10 carries in week 2 and earned the starting position for week 3, where he pummeled SEC foe Alabama to the tune of 224 yards and 2 touchdowns for a Florida single-game record. Emmitt singlehandedly carried the team, since NCAA sanctions hurt the depth chart and the offense lacked other offensive weapons. Defenses keyed in on Emmitt and hampered him with injuries. Despite this obstacle, he made the All-SEC 1st team all three years, and was the SEC MVP and 1st team All-American in his final year. Not bad for a kid that was too small and too slow to be a successful running back. Emmitt finished his career at Florida with records for season rushing yards, single game rushing yards, career rushing yards, career rushing yards per game, career rushing touchdowns, and others for a total of 58 school records.

    The Dallas Cowboys drafted him with pick #17 in 1989, where Emmitt had a Hall of Fame career. Emmitt short list of accolades includes: 3X Super Bowl champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX), Super Bowl MVP (XXVIII), 8X Pro Bowl, 4X All-Pro, NFL MVP (1993), NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1990), 4X NFL rushing leader (1991-1993, 1995), 4X NFL rushing touchdown leader (1991-1993, 1995), and Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. He owns NFL records for career rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and rushing attempts.

    Emmitt was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Association as a Gator Great in 1999, the Gator Football Ring of Honor in 2006, the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

    Fun fact: Emmitt wore #24 for his high school football team, the Escambia Gators.

    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
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  2. DRU2012

    DRU2012 Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

    Ah. What can you say that adds to everything we saw with our own eyes? Truth is, we started HEARING about Emmit years BEFORE he arrived in G-ville: I'm a tad gun shy on timing concerning that period right now, but as I recall it, we heard about "this kid"--"too small", "too slow", "just whipping everyone ON THE FIELD" out there in the panhandle--that "everyone wants him" but that we had the edge 'cause his MOMMA wanted him to be a Gator...Turned out all of it was true, and in a time when we WERE "thin and getting thinner" and because of the reasons behind all that, we were probably the program LEAST focused on in Florida by the media right then--but week in week out Emmit MADE them sit up and take notice...In a time when underclassmen were hardly even CONSIDERED for it, there was already talk of his Heisman candidacy; as I remember it, despite everything, had he not put himself up for the supplemental draft when he did he would have been at or near the top of the annual list of favorites going into the next season. But the Cowboys jumped on the opportunity to potentially nail down their running back for years to come--and it paid off for them BIGTIME.
    Personally NOT a Cowboys fan, I have ALWAYS been an EMMIT-fan, and as things worked out for me I moved to Texas in time to follow some of his and THEIR peak seasons together; they used to practice in Austin for their summer camps back then, so I even got a chance to watch him work out live a number of times back then (and when I did, I was out there baking in that summer heat to see HIM, rather than the Cowboys, for the most part).
    The terms "quick shift slippery" and "sneaky fast" seemed MADE for him, but frankly didn't do him justice. He was both stronger and faster than generally given credit for, and had "extra gears" AND uniquely elusive direction-shifts that consistently had defenders grabbing air where they THOUGHT, where all their well-honed senses were SURE he would be--but wasn't, as it turned out. You all know exactly what I'm talking about: Not "sleight-of-hand" but rather "sleight-of-body", you might say.
    Always a staunch Gator, he continues to strongly support his alma mater in any way asked and then some.
  3. Leakfan12

    Leakfan12 VIP Member

    I remember when Emmitt made an appearance on a show Michael Irvin co-hosted that Ponzi U wanted to recruit Emmitt Smith but his high school coach blocked them saying they passed the ball too much. Also, to think that all defenses were focused on Emmitt and still couldn't stop him. I wonder if Spurrier regretted letting Emmitt go but in fairness, Emmitt did end up in a good spot with the Cowboys, a team who had a member of each of the main three Florida schools as key contributors for their Super Bowl-winning teams (well Deion was only there for Super Bowl XXX). Fun fact the guy who was drafted 15 spots ahead of Emmitt (Blair Thomas) ended up being Emmitt's backup for the Cowboys.
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  4. Escambia94

    Escambia94 Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE) Moderator

    My uncle knew Emmitt, Emory, Erik, and Emil, and he watched the first three do very well in football from Pop Warner through their times as Escambia Gators. Emil was okay, but he was the only one in the bunch that did not get an NCAA scholarship, and I believe he is the only one still living in Pensacola. I only became a Cowboys fan because of Emmitt, just as I was a fan of the Bears and Seahawks only for Neal Anderson and John L. Williams. Emmitt was definitely special--the most special of all the Gators that I watched in the NFL. Normally I am not an NFL fan unless there is a Gator to watch, and I was glad to have watched #22 for all those years.
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