Q&A: FSU commitment Terrance Smith overcomes early tragedy for present glory


Terrance Smith was just 4 years old when his father’s life came to a violent end. Terry Smith was shot by Atlanta police officers in 1997 in a domestic dispute with his estranged wife, Angela Smith, Terrance’s mother. Angela Smith was stabbed and critically injured in that altercation and Terrance’s 2-year-old sister was hurt by police gunfire. Terrance escaped unharmed, or so the police report said.

Today, that incident is mostly a blurry memory that Terrance has done his best to forget. Besides, there is much about which to be happy. Terrance, a rising senior at Southwest DeKalb High School, went on to grow up in a joyful, nurturing home. An ‘A’ student, he also has developed into one of the top college prospects in Atlanta. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound outside linebacker already has accepted a scholarship to Florida State. Meanwhile, major college football programs continue to come after him. Leading the way in that pursuit is Clemson, the school of which his mother and late father are alums. Terry Smith was a wide receiver at Clemson who graduated as the school’s all-time leader in catches (162) and in receiving  yardage (2,681) before going on to a brief NFL career.

I visited with Terrance this week to talk about his recruitment and about how that incident 14 years ago may or may not have affected it. Following is the Q&A.



Q: So you’ve been an FSU commitment for more than two months now. Did everything get quiet on the recruiting front after that?

A: “It definitely didn’t get quieter. I think it may schools come a little harder because I’ve gotten offers since then. I got an offer from USC just recently. That’s the last one I know about anyway. So they’re still coming hard. Me being committed hasn’t really stopped any of the schools who were already recruiting me.”

Q: Didn’t Southern Cal bring up the NCAA investigation? The infractions committee is supposed to reveal the sanctions today?

A: “They haven’t talked much about all that.”

Q: Do you care if they got a couple of years probation or a bowl ban or something? Would that matter?

A: “Well, I mean, yeah, it would. Not being able to play in a bowl game is not something I’m trying to do right now. So it might be a problem.”

Q: So how many scholarship offers are you holding?

A: “I don’t know. I kind of stopped keeping track. Basically it’s all ACC, all SEC, Ohio State and Souothern Cal.”

Q: What has been going with Florida State since you committed back in late March?

A: “The relationship between me and the Florida State coaches is solid. I talk to them every week. I talk to Coach Fisher and Coach Craig and my position coach. So it’s a solid relationship. They talk to me about all these schools coming at me. They say stay focused on Florida State.”

Q: You were like the 11th commitment for the Seminoles and I think they had only 12 or so to give this year? How’s the rest of their recruiting going?

A: “After my commitment they kind of slowed down on recruiting. They’re still recruiting but I think they’re just concentrating on the last one or two spots. But our class is pretty much done.”

Q: Has Tech or Georgia given up on you?

A: “Oh no. I talked to Georgia coaches and Georgia Tech coaches pretty often. I don’t know, I really like Tech and Georgia. It’s just the fact that I really want to kind of get away from Georgia, go somewhere else.

Q: What about Clemson? Obviously you have a lot of ties there. Are they still in touch with you?

A: “Oh yeah. I talk to the Clemson coaches a lot. I talk to coach Long once a week. I have a relative who coaches at Clemson [strength and conditioning coach Larry Greenlee] so I have a lot of conversations with him. I have every tie that I need at Clemson and they preach that to me every time I talk to the them. They say I’ll be looked out for down there. I know I would. But I kind of wanted to go somewhere and start my own legacy rather than come in on my dads footsteps.”

Q: Do you think you’ve subconsciously steered away from Clemson just because of the tragedy you endured as a young child?

A: “No, I’m not trying to avoid any memories or anything like that. It’s just that I want to basically go to a place where I can be my own man and not have to really worry about what people have done before me.”

Q: You were just 4 years old at the time. Do you have any memory of that one particular incident?

A: “Very few. I don’t recall too much about it.”

Q: But that’s not something that make you look at Clemson in a negative light, right?

A: “Not at all.”

Q: What’s your plans for this summer?

A: “The first thing coming up is this 360 Sports Academy thing. They basically are going to get us down there and put us through a program working with NFL coaches and players. It’s a development camp. So I’m going to go to that the 6th through the 11th. I’m going to go to a Florida State camp and I’m going to try to make an Alabama camp. If I can make it I’m going to try to go to Ohio State’s camp maybe. And, of course, Georgia’s 45 minutes down the road. So I’ll probably go through there.”

Q: Has Georgia hit you up with its Dream Team theme?

A: “Oh yeah, they did. They told me I should come be part of their Dream Team. Actually, that wpould be comething special. If every elite player from Georgia actually goes to the University of Georgia, then they’d have a chance to win the national championship. Absolutely.”

37 comments Add your comment

Follow your heart

June 4th, 2010
8:56 am

I think that this kid will be great on and off the field, hopefully UGA can influence him to change his mind and sign with the incoming dream team!

Follow your heart

June 4th, 2010
8:57 am

Oh! and first again!!


June 4th, 2010
9:10 am

Good luck young man!


June 4th, 2010
9:29 am

He’s a good one! Too bad Richt couldn’t get him.

Albert the Alligator

June 4th, 2010
9:29 am

ATL Nole

June 4th, 2010
9:53 am

Terrance, welcome to the Nole Nation!

70 Dawg

June 4th, 2010
10:03 am

Terrance, good luck to you at FSU (beat those gators and yellow jackets every time you play them). I think your statement about wanting to get away makes a lot of sense and is the reason UGA can never get all of Georgia’s top recruits. The allure of getting away is sometimes very strong and often is the best option.


June 4th, 2010
10:03 am

I went to High School in Clemson with his Dad – my Basketball teammate, my Friend. I can believe the resemblance.


June 4th, 2010
10:09 am

The #1 LB unit in the country sure got abused last year … I’m sure Jimbo will figure out how to stop the passing attack this summer … take a big swig of kool-aid Nole fans … it could be another long season in Tally.

Go Tigers!

PS … get well soon, Ponder … we’ve got a game coming up!


June 4th, 2010
10:09 am

As a UGA fan I wish we would come to Athens, but with his life experiences I can understand why he would like to venture away for college. As a human being I wish him the best in all aspects of his life.

ATL Nole

June 4th, 2010
10:21 am

Wow, a Clemson fan talking trash. Old man Bobby(he did a great job until he got too old) is out and Clemson is one team we’re not concerned with.


June 4th, 2010
10:32 am

A Clemson fan who really doesn’t want what he’s asking for. Ponder will light Clemson up this year. Offensively, FSU is right up there with the best in the Nation. Defense will be better, better scheme, better coaching, better players. I feel sorry for Clemson, while they got slower, FSU got faster. Greg Reid will dominate, and Clemson has to find a QB. Welcome Terrance to the Garnet and Gold.


June 4th, 2010
10:36 am

John – what year did you graduate DWD? I was class of ‘89 w/ his dad & I agree about the resemblence – he looks exactly like Terry.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

June 4th, 2010
10:39 am

good for him, let him get out of ATL and explore. now you can’t even go to Screen On The Green without some thugs throwing rocks at cars, getting into fights, and shooting guns. this city is becoming like Detroit very fast.

The ACC & SEC Blog

June 4th, 2010
10:47 am

Vividly remember watching this kid’s dad at Clemson. He played in a run first offense but still left Tiger Town as their greatest receiver ever.

Hope this kid can take the early tragedy in his life and use his scholarship to FSU (or wherever he goes) to make a better way for his family in the future.

blue and gold

June 4th, 2010
11:08 am

great piece on a very humble and respectful young man. this kid just might break the sack record for the state of ga this year. if you thought that tj stripling had a dominant year last year for swd then watch out for terrance as he attempts to lead his team to a state championship this season. he plays on a defense that has more d1 prospects than last year . so if your a coach or just a fan watch out for the 2010 swd panthers they are loaded d1 players

blue and gold

June 4th, 2010
11:10 am

@ chip towers when tucker meets swd on aug 27 it will be a showcase of the top recruits in the state

Vick=Dog killing thug

June 4th, 2010
11:15 am

Love to see him playing for the red and black. 6′4 with speed and size. Nice


June 4th, 2010
11:40 am

It is good to see someone that has been through so much tragedy make it through with a lot of determination and hard work. I wish Terrance the best where ever he goes but I would like to see him in Red & Black.


June 4th, 2010
11:56 am

Good article on a kid who seems to have his head and heart in the right place. Best of luck in the future although I too would love to see him in Athens.



June 4th, 2010
12:16 pm

If he’s not going to UGA then I guess Florida State is as good a place as any. They will take care of him.


June 4th, 2010
12:25 pm

sounds cocky


June 4th, 2010
12:30 pm

Chip what time is witchets anouncement today


June 4th, 2010
12:45 pm

Just because they call it a “Dream Team” doesn’t make it a Dream Team. Just look at the last few years to paint you a picture. Good luck kid, you made a great choice, and it sounds like you gat a good head on your shoulders.


June 4th, 2010
1:11 pm

Welcome to the Nole family! Cant wait to see you on the field!


June 4th, 2010
1:40 pm

Tidbit…. Scout is showing that Zach Witchett just committed to UGA.


June 4th, 2010
2:21 pm

Witchett is the 3rd WR to commit to UGA. Charone Peake is the #7 WR in the country and that is what UGA is waiting on now.


June 4th, 2010
2:32 pm

Word is, LeMay stays in touch with Peake and is trying to sway him to UGA. No word on how that is going though.


June 4th, 2010
4:22 pm

If Grantham believes he’s a goot fit for a 3-4 defense he should listen to him. The OLB position is a featured position in a 3-4. Most colleges will be moving to a 3-4 to answer the spread offenses in the next few years but will be behind the curve. There is nothing better than having the support of your hometown son, come to UGA!

John A

June 5th, 2010
6:48 am

Amazing interview. Very humble and mature for his talent and age. Will be well-received and do well in Tallahassee.


June 6th, 2010
4:25 am

Bulldog59, the Athens Banner Herald had the story posted Saturday about Zach Witchett committment. Surprised no one at AJC has bothered to put up an article about this. I guess they are all off for the weekend.

Alicee G. Hopkins

June 6th, 2010
12:31 pm

It was so tactless to tell or should i sA

Alicee G. Hopkins

June 6th, 2010
1:23 pm

I think it was tactless to remind Terrance and Daejha and tell the whole world what happened that dreadful day. Terrance doesn’t really remember what happened and his sister has absolutely no recollection. Now the whole school and everyone knows, thanks to you. Those children have to go back to school with this incident hanging over their heads. I am positive if this had happened to you it would never have been mentioned. Next time you interview someone, think twice about what you write. They surely didn’t tell anyone about their father. Their mother went through horrors, too but why remind her either. I suggest you ask permission to print negativism before you print it.


Very Disappointed

June 7th, 2010
9:24 am

While it is every mother’s dream to read about her son in the news paper, I can immediately think of two instances where this would not be true. One, in the weekly arrest reports and two, in the obituaries. Sadly Mr. Towers, this blog happens to be my third.

How is it that my son can have a 3.25 GPA, score over 1000 on the SAT in 9th grade, be eligible for early graduation, have over 100 tackles and 16 sacks in one season, have over 20 Division 1 scholarship offers (none of which you mention) and yet, this is the only thing you could think to write about? This article is very insensitive, especially considering the fact that we talked about this BEFOREHAND, and you PROMISED not to print this out of respect for my family and the delicate nature of this tragic event.

Sometimes we need to stop being doers and become thinkers…Think about how our actions affect others. Think about being upstanding citizens by upholding our promises to others to the best of our abilities. Think about other poeple’s feeling for once. You most certainly did not think on this one. My son is not a product of his past but a direct reflection of his present.

I have worked hard to ensure that my children never had to be victimized for a second time. No one needs to feel sorry for Terrance because of tragedy because it is through adversity that true character is developed.

I can only hope that you realize that despite the size and strength of these young men, these are mere CHILDREN that you profile in your blogs. That should mean something to you.

Leghumper Antivirus

June 8th, 2010
8:11 am

You leghumpers can forget about Charone Peake. He’s Clemson all the way.
Call it a done deal. And we have a QB. Remember the name Taj Boyd. I believe he was the MVP of the US Army AA game year before last.

Billy Ray Boogerman

June 8th, 2010
8:30 am

Kida like to collect offers, but how many teams schools can you attend at one time? You guessed it ONE!. Come on fella, you’ve made a choice, which I doubt you’re going to stick with. You will eventually fall in love with another program an you will switch. Hers’ some good advice for you. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!. Your first choice is the RIGHT choice 90 percent of the time.

360 Football

June 13th, 2010
2:00 am

Terrance re-confirmed he was one of the top High School LB’s in the country this week at the 360 Football Academy. He proved to be an even better young man!

Mam, you should not only be proud of Terrance but give yourself a patt on the back for raising a fine young man! He’ll do great wherever he decides to go!