Note: Apopka High, Florida State and NFL standout running back Sammie Smith recently spoke at The Apopka Community Prayer Breakfast. During his speech, he announced he would be taking a post with the FCA at The University of Mississippi. Here is a press release from the Mississippi FCA confirming him as the new Director of Character Development at Ole Miss:
Sammie Smith has accepted an offer to join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes staff at The University of Mississippi. Smith will be serving as the FCA Director of Character Development for Ole Miss Football.
“I am really excited to have Sammie join our Fellowship of Christian Athlete (FCA) staff team at Ole Miss. He adds a wealth of life experiences from which our student- athletes and coaches will greatly benefit,” said Todd Johnson, Ole Miss FCA Campus Director.
Smith was a standout 230-pound running back with sprinter’s speed. His talents awarded him a scholarship to play for Coach Bobby Bowden at Florida State from 1985-1988. In 1987, he set the FSU rushing record with 1,230 yards. This record stood until Warrick Dunn broke it in 1995. Smith was drafted as the ninth overall pick of the 1989 NFL Draft.
While at the summit of his athletic career, his life began to unravel. In 1990, Smith lost his 2-month-old son Jerrod to sudden infant death syndrome. Then in 1996, he was convicted on two accounts of possession and distribution of cocaine and served seven years in federal prison. When Smith was at his lowest point, he surrendered his life to Christ and things have never been the same.
“That first night, I sat in the county jail and had a chance to really look at the previous six or seven years,” Sammie said. “It was at that point that I trusted Jesus to forgive and change me. I promised Him that when all was said and done, I will get out and do the things I know God would have me to do.”
Smith's story is one of redemption. He knows what it is like to hit bottom; but he also knows what it is like to get a second chance to live with purpose. “When you talk to Sammie you would never know you were talking to someone who has as many athletic accolades as he does. Sammie is a very humble, winsome, and godly man. I’m thrilled to have him join our staff team!” said Josh Gilreath, Mississippi FCA State Director. Since being released from prison, he has shared the message of Jesus Christ with thousands at churches, civic organizations, and through FCA. In 2012, he joined the FCA staff as the representative for Lake County, Florida. In this role Sammie has shared the hope of Christ with the youth and coaches in the community where he grew up.
Now Smith will have the opportunity to share his story of redemption with student athletes and coaches at Ole Miss.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Sammie to Ole Miss, and I’m grateful that our student-athletes will have his positive guidance available to them,” said head coach Hugh Freeze. “With his playing career and life experiences, Sammie will serve as an excellent resource for those players that want help navigating life’s tough decisions.”
Smith and his family (Shalonda, Cre' Shawn (16), Sania (9)) will move to Oxford, Mississippi this summer.
See more details on Sammie Smith and the FCA here.