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Troy Smith: Heisman Trophy winner still around football
After a playing career that spanned from Ohio State to the NFL, Heisman-winning quarterback Troy Smith is helping the next generation with camps of his own. (Credit: @yn_TroySmith/Twitter)

Troy Smith: Heisman Trophy winner still around football

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BVM) – Former Ohio State University quarterback Troy Smith didn’t have the easiest path to the NFL, but football changed his fortunes forever. Now, years after his playing days, Smith is still near the game that changed his path in life and is helping the next generation with their football journeys through numerous camps and clinics.

Early life and high school career

Living with a difficult home life in a perilous neighborhood, football and other sports were a reprieve for Smith. However, that didn’t mean things were always going well. After spending his first two and a half years at St. Edward High School near his hometown of Cleveland, Smith was kicked out of the school after elbowing an opposing basketball player in the head and knocking him unconscious.

Following the incident, Smith enrolled at Glenville High School. During his senior season, Smith showed off his athleticism, playing quarterback and some wide receiver while leading the team to a 9-2 record and an appearance in the state playoffs. After the season, Smith was invited to the Elite 11 quarterback camp, furthering his national spotlight.

Many teams didn’t see the 6-foot, 200-pound senior as a quarterback, but rather an athlete. Rated as the No. 191 overall prospect and No. 8 dualthreat quarterback in the Class of 2002, Smith earned offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Toledo and West Virginia, but most weren’t as a QB. With their last scholarship offer late in the process, Ohio State offered Smith as an athlete, which he accepted.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Becoming the signal-caller for the Buckeyes took some time for Smith. After redshirting his first year, Smith was used primarily as a running back and return man during his redshirt freshman campaign, compiling 14 yards rushing and 83 return yards.

Troy Smith Ohio State University quarterback
After years of working in the background, Smith finally became the Buckeyesstarting quarterback during his redshirt junior season in 2005. (Credit: Joe Robbins-USA TODAY Sports)

During his sophomore year in 2004, Smith had played well enough in practice at the quarterback position to earn the role as the primary backup. However, halfway through the year, head coach Jim Tressel turned to his young signal-caller to provide a spark and he did. Smith finished the season playing in eight games with 896 passing yards, eight touchdowns and just three interceptions to go with 339 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.


Now as the full-time starter, Smith flexed his athletic muscle in 2005 leading the Buckeyes to a Fiesta Bowl victory as he threw for 2,282 yards and 16 scores and rushed for 611 yards and 11 more touchdowns. The table was set for Smith to become a national sensation.

Smith won the Heisman Trophy with 86.7% of the vote, the second highest percentage in the history of the award. (Credit: Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

During his redshirt senior campaign in 2006, Smith simply exploded. The quarterback completed 67% of his passes for 2,507 yards and 30 touchdowns with just five interceptions while also rushing for 204 more yards and another score. Smith’s strong play led the Buckeyes to the 2007 BCS National Championship, though they would fall to the Florida Gators.

While Smith may not have won the team award, he was named the Heisman Trophy winner for his electrifying season, winning with 86.7% of the vote, the second highest percentage in the history of the award.

NFL career

Despite his strong collegiate resume, Smith may have been too ahead of his time to be considered a high prospect in the NFL. Given his small stature, Smith wasn’t selected until the fifth round, No. 174 overall, of the 2007 NFL Draft where he was taken by the Baltimore Ravens.

Smith played in four games with two starts in his rookie season, going 1-1 and completing 52.6% of his passes for 452 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions while rushing for 54 yards and another score. Unfortunately, the Ravens decided not to give Smith much more of a look as the Ravens drafted quarterback Joe Flacco in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

This was the beginning of the end for Smith as he was used sparingly over the next two seasons in Baltimore, playing in 10 total games with no starts while recording 106 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception and 55 rushing yards with one rushing score.

Troy Smith Baltimore Ravens quarterback
Smith never truly had the chance to thrive in Baltimore, playing in just 14 games with two starts over his three seasons with the Ravens. (Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports)

After not being re-signed by Baltimore, Smith would join the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. During his lone season in San Francisco, Smith played in and started six games, going 3-3, while throwing for 1,176 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing for 121 yards and another score. Though he recorded the best season of his career, Smith was not signed by the 49ers as they opted to go with fellow quarterback Alex Smith who split starts with the signal-caller.

Troy Smith San Francisco 49ers quarterback
Smith’s best NFL season would be his last as he threw for a career-high 1,176 yards and five touchdowns with six starts in his lone campaign in the Bay. (Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

With no home in the NFL, the quarterback signed with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League for the 2011 season but didn’t play much. Smith would sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 offseason but was released by the team before training camp started.

Smith would play two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes from 2013-14, playing in 19 games with nine starts and throwing for 1,873 yards, 13 passing touchdowns and nine interceptions with 96 rushing yards and two more scores. Smith was released by the Alouettes in October 2014 which marked his final time on a professional roster.

Retirement life

Though Smith stayed mostly out of the limelight in his retirement, he joined social media in 2021 with both Twitter and Instagram pages. Smith was quick to reach out to the fanbase that helped make him a star.

During the year, Smith also announced a joint camp with fellow former Buckeyes star Braxton Miller where the two used their Ohio State football connections to bring in legends like Ted Ginn Jr., Ryan Shazier and Parris Campbell, just to name a few. This year, Smith returned to coaching a camp as he was a special guest at Miller’s camp and also hosted another camp in August.

Given his reputation as one of the best college quarterbacks to ever do it along with his amazing journey from Cleveland to the NFL, Smith seems to have found his calling in coaching. Though time will tell how long he will be on the sidelines, it is good to see Smith back on the gridiron.