Bears’ Smith signs with Lindsey Wilson
For the past three seasons Ray Smith has been staple on the line of scrimmage for the Sevier County Smoky Bears football team.
Now the Bears’ stalwart is moving on to Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky., and taking game to the next level.
“They contacted me after the football season, I went on a visit in January, and we’ve been talking ever since,” Smith said. “I visited their program, and they had a nice facility. The coaches were really nice, and they seemed like they wanted me pretty bad.
“They kept in touch the whole time and they offered me a pretty good amount of money for my scholarship, I got an academic scholarship and an athletic scholarship, so I’m pretty set.”
Smith began his varsity career for SCHS as a sophomore offensive lineman.
Through time he got stronger and transitioned to defense, where he really excelled.
“He was one of the best technicians we’ve had here, in terms of technique and using his hands,” Sevier County defensive coordinator Kenny Ratledge said. “Last year we had to move him to defense end, and he really helped us out by being able to move out the edge, even though he’s not a true defensive end.”
Head coach Steve Brewer also spoke very favorably of Smith.
“He really worked hard and got stronger (over time),” Brewer said. “He was an excellent offensive lineman, but because of need we had to play him defensively. And this year he really made progress and really had a strong presence on the defensive line. He’s smart, he picks things up well.”
At Lindsey Wilson, Smith said the coaches figure him as a defensive tackle.
“They said they’re recruiting me at defensive tackle, but I’ll play anywhere they want me to,” Smith said, even offering to snap for field goals and extra points — something he’s done at SCHS.
“I’ll play wherever they need me to be to get on the field.”
“They’ve got somebody that’s really smart, really intelligent,” Ratledge said of the Lindsey Wilson football program’s signing of Smith. “He works hard, never says a word. He’s just a great leader who sets a great example by his actions.”
Smith said he’ll hold many memories of SCHS close after leaving the school.
“Just being able to stand on the field with these guys, and having worn purple throughout my whole career (is special),” he said. “I’ve been a Bear all my life, from little league to middle school all the way up through high school — I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
He will especially remember playing in the Bears’ huge comeback game in the second round of the TSSAA playoffs in 2012, including the halftime speech from teammate Dexter Robbins.
“The coaches didn’t even go in the locker room,” Smith said. “So Dexter Robbins, he motivated us and we came out of locker room and took over from there. It was really exciting, I loved every minute of it. That’s one of the biggest moments, and to be able to start from sophomore through senior year for the Purple and White.”
Smith said he plans on majoring in communications at Lindsey Wilson. “I’ve always wanted to be a sports analyst, sports writer or sports journalist — something like that,” he said.
Brewer believes Smith can make an impact in college.
“I think he enjoys competition,” the coach said. “He’s got an opportunity to play and he’s worked for it. Now it’s before him, and he’s got to take advantage of that, get his education and play college football.”