Todd Smith 1987-1990
Nathan Kaspar says of football players like Todd Smith “ It is important to know that an athlete who chooses to accept being a walk-on, does so because he wants to play at Texas.” Todd Smith had scholarship offers to Arkansas and Mississippi, but he declined both offers because he wanted to be a Longhorn. Todd followed his Cousin Reggie Grob to Texas. Reggie was the walk-on at Texas who died of heat stroke at practice in the early 1960’s. His death forever changed the water protocol at Texas.
Todd walked on as a freshman at defensive end but finished as a offensive center. A contemporary of Todd's , Jerry Seade, summed up the description of a walk-on during this period as "the low men on the totem pole... The term suggested that a player was of less value than the others...." As Todd Smith says "all walk-ons are used as "cannon fodder". To make the team a walk-on has to try harder and play twice as good to catch the eye of a coach. As sports writer Mark McDonald says “many walk-ons are assigned to the so-called “attack squad,” comprised of surplus humans, used as blocking dummies and tackling targets – raw meat for the starters to sharpen their fangs. Better to be the back end of a shooting gallery than to be on the attack squad”.
Abe Lemons said of a recruiting a "mistake. " “Doctors bury their mistakes, but mine are still on scholarship ". Most walk-ons who make the team do so at someone else’s expense. Todd Smith saw the void on the team and started climbing for daylight.
He was small as a defensive end at 230 pounds with a 32 inch waist so he added weight and waist to reach his goal of 260 pounds and then asked Coach McWilliams too move him to center where he thought there may be some opportunities. Coach McWilliams was reluctant to move him to center since the snap to the quarterback requires a few specialize skills that Todd had not mastered , but he finally agreed.
As with most walk-ons, there were many days he felt underappreciated by the coaches and discouraged about his progress, but family support strengthened his resolve and a little light was slowly turning into sunshine for Todd. Todd Smith is a member of a very exclusive club of Longhorn football players who move from walk-on to starter. This does not happen often in Division I football, but when it does a coach or mentor is usually involved. For Todd he says “I had both a mentor and Coach” . “Coach Clovis gave me a chance to compete and prove himself , and Robert Brewer the Asst. AD was instrumental in encouraging my development”.