Forever recognized as 24K, former UCF Knight Kevin Smith was finally given his deserved second chance against the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday.
And he didn’t disappoint.
The Detroit Lions reclaimed running back Kevin Smith off the couch a few weeks ago with honestly no clue on what he could bring to the table.
Well, he pounded the ball 16 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Then, he caught the rock four times for 61 yards and with the hat trick, a TD reception.
Fantasy waiver wires will be ringing off the hook for Kevin Smith pickups this week. Callers will have to hold, please.
Kevin is on the phone with Pam Smith. His biggest fan. His mom. The one who has always been there for him through thick and thin, home game or away game. She has believed in her son from the start.
We too need to become believers.
Kevin Smith has often been doubted as runner in his career, from high school to the college game and eventually at the pro level. Coming out of Southridge High, most colleges were recruiting him as a safety. Many schools believed he lacked the top-end speed and overall skill to be a collegiate back.
However, Ron Zook of the Florida Gators was highly recruiting the young man to play ball as tailback up at Gainesville. Kevin Smith’s path would shift directions though when Zook was fired and his best option to carry the ball would be at the University of Central Florida.
And the rest is history.
Smith began his freshman campaign with the winless UCF Golden Knights, led by head coach George O’Leary. The team had no expectations. Well, besides losing.
Kevin Smith, however, would be one of the many dynamic players that was able to turn things around for a team with no promise. The Golden Knights finished the 2005 season with an 8-6 record, reaching their first bowl game where Smith rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns.
However, the 2006 season would end up being a poor showing for a UCF squad with so much potential. They finished 4-8 that year.
2007. The year UCF built its on-campus, Bright House Networks Stadium. The year the team changed its logo and threw out the “Golden.” They were simply the Knights.
The same year that Kevin Smith would rush for 2,567 yards and 29 touchdowns on 450 carries. He was a workhorse. He was the offense. He was 24K.
It was a record-breaking year for Smith: 1) the most carries in a single season, 2) second in rushing yards in a single season, only 62 yards shy of the great Barry Sanders. The Knights would go on to win the Conference USA Championship but would end up losing their second bowl appearance at the Liberty Bowl.
Even after Smith’s historic season, he received little respect for his hard work. Was he listed on All-American teams? Yes.
But that all came after ESPN’s apology.
Yep, SportsCenter actually apologized for not publicizing his tremendous play that season. He would go on to finish eighth in Heisman voting.
Kevin Smith had quite a chock-full resumé when he entered the NFL Draft as a junior in 2008. He accumulated 4,864 yards on the ground and picked up 45 touchdowns in his short career at Central Florida.
After battling with the decision to stay or leave, Kevin Smith would enter the draft and go on to be selected by the Detroit Lions.
From his powerful throne in Camelot, Smith was tied up and led to the Lions’ den.
He joined a football team that was horrible on all levels and would actually go on to be perfect to say the least. 0-16. The greatest of all losing teams. And Kevin Smith was their tailback. But he still managed to rush for 976 yards and eight touchdowns. Not too shabby behind the NFL’s worst offensive line.
Injuries would follow Smith the next two seasons, cutting short any hope of a pro career in the NFL. After the 2010 season and two torn ACLs, Smith was not re-signed and was left to fight on his own.
After multiple YouTube attempts to showcase his talent and a five-day training routine for eight straight weeks, Kevin Smith finally received a phone call to workout and prove his worth. And wouldn’t you know it…his former team was calling in dire need of a decent back.
After watching Kevin Smith run all over the Panthers’ defense this past Sunday, I actually got chills.
It is amazing to see a human being, who had everyone telling him he couldn’t make it, humbly walk on to the field and simply put, dominate. He is a man who was grateful for his opportunity. His second chance. A beast too, nonetheless.
As the old saying goes, “Mama knows best.”
And Pam Smith certainly knows her son well. He is a fighting man and a man of faith, one who understands that “God is good.”
Hopefully Kevin Smith can stick around so we can get to know him a bit better.