Smith put football career on line

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 3, 1999

Darian Smith was a bruising running back at Adams County Christian School in the late 1980s.

In the early 1990s, he was making room for running backs.

Smith played the position of guard at Southern Mississippi.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I&160;kind of figured I would play defensive end or tight end,&uot; Smith said. &uot;But the opportunity came up for me to be able to play early as an offensive lineman, so I went after it.&uot;

The then 6-foot-4, 240-pound Smith rushed for 925 yards his senior year at ACCS. He was also a standout defensive end and kicked three field goals and six extra points.

Smith said beating Centreville his senior year at AC was his biggest high school highlight.

&uot;We lost to them my first two years,&uot; he said. &uot;There was 10 minutes left and we recovered a fumble. We drove it the length of the field and made a field goal with two minutes left.&uot;

Smith was the one who kicked that game-winning 20-yarder.

&uot;That was one of the best feelings I ever had,&uot; he said. &uot;I was totally exhausted after that game. That’s the tiredest I had ever been.&uot;

Smith began making trips to Southern Mississippi at the end of his junior year.

He was being recruited by Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tulane, Northeast Louisiana and two junior colleges.

&uot;Coach (Curley) Hallman was just coming off an Independence Bowl win and Ole Miss and State were down,&uot; Smith said. &uot;Coach Hallman left a very good impression. I didn’t even visit State or Ole Miss.&uot;

Smith said the college game was a big step.

&uot;It was a whole new ballgame,&uot; he said. &uot;I was coming from a double-A school. Everything was a lot more structured. It was more business-like.&uot;

Smith had the opportunity to play right away at guard, so he spent hours in the weight room, building up his frame.

&uot;They rotated offensive lines, so I got to go in on short yardage situations,&uot; Smith said.

Smith said the toughest part was learning the schemes.

&uot;In high school they just tell you to go block somebody,&uot; he said. &uot;In college you had to read the pass coverage, see if the defense was blitzing. On one play there could be five different ways to set up for the defense. It was tough to learn.&uot;

Smith credits USM line coach Mac Bryant with helping him adjust his junior year.

&uot;He showed more confidence in me,&uot; Smith said. &uot;I could run block, but my pass blocking was suspect. Coach Bryant took the time after practice to work with me and my techniques.&uot;

Smith said another big adjustment was playing in front of 80,000 people in places such as Auburn and Alabama.

&uot;In my first game as a redshirt freshman I was scared to death,&uot; he said. &uot;We were playing at Alabama and you couldn’t hear yourself talk on the sideline. But once I got on the field, I could only hear what was going on around me.&uot;

Smith, 29, began his law enforcement career as campus policeman at University Medical Center in Jackson.

He attended the police academy in 1995 and worked for the Raymond police department for two-and-a half years.

Smith began working for the Adams County Sheriff’s Department in July.

&uot;I&160;love it,&uot; Smith said. &uot;I was like everybody else, I didn’t think I would ever come back here. But things change.&uot;

Smith said some friends encouraged him to go into law enforcement.

&uot;I&160;had no idea what I wanted to do when I got out of school,&uot; he said. &uot;I&160;knew I didn’t want an 8-to-5 job at a desk. I met some people who talked me into attending the academy and I loved it.&uot;

Smith admitted the job took some getting used to at first.

&uot;I would get some pretty bad calls at first and I would be nervous,&uot; he said. &uot;But it all really hits you after all is said and done. You can be in pursuit and not feel anything during the whole chase. But then when it’s over, you think, ‘I can’t believe I took that turn that fast.’&uot;

Current deputy sheriff Andy Yates helped Smith get on at the Adams County Sheriff’s Department.

&uot;It’s nice to be back home with my family,&uot; Smith said. &uot;There are not many jobs as highly-regarded and well-known as the Adams County Sheriff’s Department. It’s a job too good to pass up.&uot;