Few football players participate at every level in their native state. Kevin Smith can make that claim, and his schoolboy achievements earned him a place in the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
“I hit the lottery,” he said. “The foundation that was put in place allowed me to understand the game and team sports. At each level, I was around good people and a good system.”
Smith burst upon the gridiron scene in high school, winning back-to-back state titles at West Orange-Stark. The Mustangs went 28-2 in 1986 and 1987, and the two-way player paced WO-S to its only undefeated season as senior, pulling down 12 interceptions and nine touchdown receptions in the process.
After high school, the Texas Aggies came calling, and Smith shifted focus to defense and kick returning. At A&M, he intercepted 20 passes and broke up 32 more, numbers that continue to stand as Aggie records.
Smith also returned three kickoffs for touchdowns wearing the Maroon and White. In 1991, he scored six touchdowns on special teams, a feat that earned him All-American honors.
“Football allowed me to go to college and be around good coaching at Texas A&M,” he said. “It allowed me to be the person I became.”
The Dallas Cowboys selected Smith 17th overall in the 1992 NFL Draft. Paired with Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders at cornerback, the Golden Triangle native won Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX with the Cowboys.
Smith played eight seasons in the NFL, finishing his career with 19 interceptions and one fumble recovery. He won All-Pro honors in 1996.
“I wasn’t a real big guy so I never grew up thinking about playing professional football,” he said. “It was beyond my dream. My ultimate goal was just to play high school football on Friday night.”
In 2015, the former dual-purpose player watched West Orange-Stark win its first state championship since his playing days. Mustang head coach, Cornel Thompson, served as defensive coordinator when Smith led WO-S to its first two titles. Smith recognizes most of the names on the roster since many of the players are sons of his former teammates.
“They’ve been knocking on the door for the last 20 years,” he said. “It’s great for the city. The one thing that keeps the community together is the football program.”