By Kelli Grashel
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
In 2009, Jeremy Smith led Tulsa Union to the Oklahoma 6A state title with 243 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the championship game at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Fast forward to 2013, and Smith is still breaking records on that field.
Smith owns the second longest streak of consecutive games with a rushing touchdown in Oklahoma State history.
Not many people are able to play at their dream school but for Smith, when OSU, his No. 1 choice, offered the opportunity, it was a dream come true.
“They were the first ones that really caught my eye,” Smith said. “I knew there were some guys there that really believed in something so that’s what got me.”
One would think that it was the appeal of following in the footsteps of Heisman Trophy Winner Barry Sanders, or playing for Mike Gundy that played a major role in the decision, but it was the bright orange that caught his eye.
“At first it was the colors that made me want to come here,” Smith said. “I was really into colors as a little kid.”
Coming out of high school, Smith was rated as the No. 10 running back in the nation by SuperPrep, the fourth-best player in Oklahoma by Rivals and named as The Oklahoman’s offensive player of the year. He was clearly one of the most decorated commits in his signing class, but he wasn’t just signing off on four years--Smith was signing off on a lifelong dream.
“It’s just a blessing an opportunity presented itself so I had to go forward with it and I thank God for it,” Smith said.
Smith was the first Cowboy commit of the 2009 recruiting class, but not the only one from Union. He was accompanied by his lifelong friend, wide receiver Tracy Moore.
In their early days as teammates, Smith thought Moore talked too much and Moore said they argued about who was getting the ball more. Despite not clicking at first, the two have become very close both on and off the field.
“One of the really big reasons I came here was to play with him because he’s always been a brother-like figure to me,” Moore said. “He’s one of my best friends. He is one of those guys you hear about that does all the extra stuff. That’s why he is so big because he does everything the way it’s supposed to be done and more.”
Running backs coach Jemal Singleton has also seen Smith act as an older brother to younger running backs. In his three years of coaching him, Singleton says he has seen Smith grow as a leader in his starting position.
“One of the things he did this summer that I thought was unbelievable was he spent a lot of his personal time working with the freshmen and helping them learn plays,” Singleton said. “I really just saw him mature as a young man and as a leader of this team.”
As a senior, Smith is taking his leadership role on the team seriously. He said he is always talking to the younger running backs.
“I am always in their ear saying to keep believing and keep working hard,” Smith said. “You’re always going to mess up but it’s how you bounce back from those mess ups that matters.”
Smith’s leadership isn’t going unnoticed by his coaches. Coach Singleton said that he thinks Smith personifies the concept of a team player.
“He really gets along with everybody, leads by his example and his work ethic and guys really look up to him,” Singleton said. “They think ‘If I work like him then I could potentially be the player that he is.’”
Those would be some big shoes to fill. Smith has three 100-yard rushing games in his career. He entered this season as the ninth all-time at OSU with 25 career rushing touchdowns.
Smith has seen quite a change in the program since he arrived with big trips to the Valero Alamo Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Heart of Dallas Bowl. He attests this change is because more kids are starting to believe in OSU’s formula for success.
“When you have kids buying in, they will believe in anything and then that’s how you get the hard workers,” Smith said. “Coach Gundy is doing a great job and I am happy to play with these guys.”
Smith may love Gundy’s coaching but Gundy’s dance moves after winning the Big 12 championship had him a little worried. Smith said dancing aside, winning the Big 12 championship is still his favorite memory at OSU.
“I’ve never seen anything like that with all the fans rushing out on the field and Coach Gundy was dancing in the locker room,” Smith said. “That was a dream come true.”
Smith is living out every young football player’s dream. He is playing for his dream school with one of his best friends, and has become the epitome of a team leader. Smith says the biggest lesson he learned through the whole journey was to just keep working hard.
“Regardless of any type of situation, every day is not going to be your best day,” Smith said. “But as long as you learn to do something better the next day, that’s what matters.”