Emmitt Smith is one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. He is the all-time leader in both career rushing yards with 18,355 and rushing touchdowns with 164. Smith is also an eight-time Pro Bowler and a three-time Super Bowl champion. But long before Emmitt Smith was a staple of the Dallas Cowboys backfield, he was playing his college football in Gainesville with the Florida Gators.
In three seasons with the Gators, Emmitt Smith rushed for 3,928 yards and 36 touchdowns. Smith was hoping that his son EJ Smith would follow in his footsteps and commit to Florida, but EJ decided to commit to the Stanford Cardinal instead. It was this decision that led to a touching speech from EJ Smith’s proud father.
Emmitt Smith speaks about his son’s decision
With the ESPN cameras rolling, EJ Smith announced that he would be joining the Stanford Cardinal in 2020, putting the Cardinal’s hat on instead of the other hats that were sitting in front of him. An ESPN reporter asked Emmitt Smith how he was taking the news that his son wouldn’t be following in his footsteps and playing for the Florida Gators.
“You know, I’m going to take this hat. I’m going to wear this hat,” Emmitt Smith said, drawing laughter from the crowd as he grabbed the hat of his alma mater and placed it on his head. “I can wear this hat. He doesn’t have to wear this hat. His daddy went here, that doesn’t mean that my son has to go here.
“At the end of the day, my son has his own journey,” Smith continued. “And it is his journey, not my journey. And, for him to do the things that is best for him, is what we teach all of our children. To find what is best for you and go make it happen for yourself. And I’m proud of him for standing up for the man that he is, the man that he will continue to become.”
Stanford and EJ Smith should be a good fit for each other
Under head coach David Shaw, the Stanford Cardinal have featured running backs prominently in their offenses. Toby Gerhart had a fantastic career during Shaw’s time as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2007 through 2009, eventually being drafted by the Minnesota Viking. Current Carolina Panthers running back sensation Christian McCaffrey also played under Shaw at Stanford from 2014 through 2016.
Stanford had a rare down year in 2019, posting a losing record and failing to go bowling for the first time since 2008. The Cardinal could use their next star at running back, and EJ Smith could fit the bill.
As a senior at Dallas Jesuit this season, EJ Smith racked up 1,404 total yards and 26 total touchdowns. During his three-year career with the program, Smith had 3,077 rushing yards and 60 rushing touchdowns to go along with 1,613 receiving yards and 19 receiving touchdowns.
David Shaw will be a great coach to help EJ Smith reach his potential, which in turn could lead to the Stanford Cardinal enjoying a bounce-back season in 2019.
Emmitt Smith is a proud father
Even if he chose to go to Stanford, EJ Smith will always be a Gator in Emmitt Smith’s eyes.
“I’m a Gator. He’s still a Gator because he’s in my family,” Smith said with a smile as his wife interjected that she was as well. “And my wife is a Gator because she’s in our family. So we’re still a family of Gators.”
But, in the end, being a parent is more important than school ties.
“But we’ll support not only EJ, we support Skylar, we support Jasmine, we support Rheagan, and Elijah. All of our children, no matter where they go. We’re going to be parents first.”