Plow Right: Man who dragged Gamecock says South Carolina game "did something to me"
|Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 8:01 AM- -|
Emory Smith might be known outside of South Carolina as the brother of former Florida Gator and Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith, but to Clemson fans, Smith will always be known as the man who dragged a Gamecock down the field.
Smith played for the Tigers from 1993-96, rushing 358 times for 1,568 yards (4.4 avg) and 25 touchdowns. Smith also caught 15 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. After playing with the practice squads of the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL, he played with the Scottish Claymores of 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 around these parts for his 56-yard rumble in the 38-17 victory over South Carolina in 1995. Smith took an inside handoff, broke down the middle of the field and then, with Gamecock defender Terry Cousin draped over his back, rumbled the rest of the way inside the 10. He later capped the drive with a touchdown.
TigerNet caught up with Smith recently to reflect on his career.
You were at Clemson during a time when the Tigers were good, but not necessarily great...
“When I came to Clemson, I got there in ‘92, we were a No. 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 identity of Clemson. We were in the middle of transitioning between Ken Hatfield and then Coach (Tommy) West came in. And it was just a transitional period. And so we had the good athletes. We had great athletes. I just think what's going on now is that they finally found the right fit for the program. And what I mean by that is a great leader in Dabo Swinney.
“The university always supported the football team and football players and everything. But it was just trying to find the right fit for the head coach. Because even when I was there, Danny Ford was the example of a winning coach because he had won the national championship. So I think when I came in, even though it was a transitional period, there were a lot of schools, for example like Florida State, that were running this spread offense. And we were still in the I-formation triple-option mode. And so that time period kind of was moving a lot faster for Clemson. But they finally caught up. Really, Dabo is doing an awesome job, an amazing job. And it started with Coach (Tommy) Bowden. Because even when Coach Bowden came in they were winning. They were trending up, and Dabo just took them over the top. And he's really changed the program a whole lot. He really has.”
When was the last time that you were here?
“Let me see. I was up in Greenville earlier this year for the Clemson ONE Golf Tournament. But the last time I was in Clemson was last year at Texas A&M football game. I came up for the Texas A&M football game. They had a tour of the facility, and I talked to some of the freshmen athletes that was there. Freshman football players, I think they were redshirted freshman. And my goodness! I couldn't be more proud and happier.
“That weight room is quadruple the size that I worked out in, and the access that they have is just really amazing. It's first class. It's first class. That was the last time I was up. They embraced me as one of their own. ‘Hey, I was a former player. I'm part of the family.’ Which really made me feel good because before I hadn't been back in a while because I live in Dallas. And it was hard for me to get back. I’ll never forget when I moved back 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 make it because I was transitioning. I just transitioned here. Literally I was on the road coming back from Pensacola, and I couldn't make it that weekend. I was so upset. I love to go back to Clemson. I truly do. Now, I’ve made it a mission to at least come back at least twice a year. Or come to one of the games.”
Would you like for Florida and Clemson to play each other so that you and Emmitt can have a little smack talk?
“Please, please, please, please, please. All he talks about is SEC football. Florida Gators this, Florida Gators that. That's all he talks about. I'm like, ‘Okay. Y'all don't want any of this heat. We got the lease for ya.’ I'd love to see that, too. Love to see it. So yeah. That'll be great. Because I got a brother Eric who went to Florida State. Me and him, we don't really talk that much about it. We wish each other good luck. But man! Me and him, we kind of go at it from time to time. So yeah. We do. We go at it. We go at it. But it's all fun and love.
“For a while there, the SEC was pretty successful. But now, Clemson is definitely on top of the college football Mount Rushmore. Really, you can't argue with the decade of success that Clemson has had. Really, 10 straight years of 10+ wins, always in the running for college football national championship. And the respect and the brand that has grown across this country is there for Clemson. And I couldn't be more proud of Clemson University. But when you have that type of success, everybody wants to be a part of it. And not only just a success but we also have a great university right there. A great university that has a network all across the country. So no matter where I go, I can find a Clemson grad, Clemson network, somebody that loves Clemson.”
What are some of the game that stand out to you?
“My freshman year I was the Peach Bowl MVP. We played Kentucky. That was a good game. That was a great game. I had a good game that game. And the play that sticks out in my mind was when Patrick Sapp threw the screen pass to me 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, it just did something to me. I don't know. It 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 that one run, everybody called it the plow right, where I was carrying Cousins and I drug him for about five, 10 yards. I was trying to score. I was trying towards a touchdown. So those two games right there, those were really the good games that's stuck out in my mind, as far as me having success. And a Wake Forest game. I think I had four touchdowns in a game against Wake Forest.
“But most of the time, I remember the details of the game that people really don't remember. Because we played against 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 game blocking. I was going up against Keith Brooking, and I was tearing his a** up. I remember that. I tore him up. After the game, he came up to me like, ‘Bro, you got to let up. You got to slow it down.’ I was like, ‘Nah. It's going to be this way all day.’
“I think Raymond Priester had a really good game that game. So my success at Clemson can be attributed to Raymond Priester. Because Raymond was such a downhill runner, a good running back. And we used to talk in the huddle like, ‘Okay. Follow me.’ And he was like, ‘Okay, E. I'm on your back. I'm on your back.’ I used to talk to him and tell him like, ‘Okay. I'm going to kick them out because he's playing outside. So I'm going to kick him out, but you're just cut up underneath me.’ And he would say, ‘Okay. Well, I'm going to take the outside shoulder when you come up in front of me.’
“We just talked like that. We had that type of chemistry where we communicated with each other, and he knew where I was going to block. It got to the point where he'd look at me, and he's like, ‘Okay.’ He would know which shoulder I was going to attack and know where to run. We just had that kind of chemistry. And it's great to have that type of chemistry as a running back and a fullback. But that was it.
“I just loved blocking. Loved blocking. When I first got to Clemson, I didn't like it so much. But it grew on me. It grew on me because it was all about attitude right now. It was all about attitude, and we would just run downhill. I-formation downhill. Toss sweep, isolation. We were just all downhill. We had big boys up front, from Jim Bundren to Will Young and Glenn Rountree. Those big boys were leaning on people. And we would just go downhill. They were moving people out the way, and I'd come in and get the linebackers, cleaning up the linebackers. And then they were paving the way for Raymond and myself. We were really strong at running the ball. I think we were in top 10 in rushing the years that I was at Clemson.”
Who was the best player you played with at Clemson?
“Best player at Clemson? I think the best player they ever came from Clemson, is Brian Dawkins. That was my roommate. His stats speak for themselves. He's a Hall of Famer, a good, good man, a good friend. A good godly Christian. Extremely hard worker, dedicated and was just driven and motivated. Brian Dawkins is by far, the best player that I played with that came from Clemson, in my opinion. He probably doesn’t get a lot of recognition because he's on the defensive side of the ball. But Brian Dawkins was the man. Here's a guy that came in wasn't even rated. I think he was like a two-star athlete. And he had to struggle to put weight on. I remember late, two, three o'clock in the morning, eating a peanut butter jelly sandwich just to make weight, just to gain weight. But that's the epitome of a hard worker, dedicated, focused, and driven. Attitude. That type of attitude that's not going to let anybody stop you from accomplishing your goals. The dude worked hard. And every Sunday we used to run. And Sundays after the game, we used to run. And, people used to be so mad at him because he would lap us. We would say, ‘Man, don't. Slow down.’ And he would say, ‘No. Y'all catch up.’ That was his type of attitude.”
What keeps Emory Smith busy these days?
“I'm a mortgage consultant, loan officer. I love what I'm doing. Getting people approved to purchase a home. It's rewarding for me when I get the thank you at the closing table. The financial education that I provide when I'm getting people approved, the credit education that I apply for getting people approved, makes me feel like I'm setting people up financially for their future. So that's what I do right now.”