It's More Than Football With Jamayel Smith

When senior wide receiver Jamayel Smith first walked on at Mississippi State, he wasn't your typical Sylvester Croom type football player or person.

"When I first got here, I was a little wild and didn't want to listen," said Jamayel Smith.

When he says not listening, he's referring to not listening to male authoritative figures because the simple fact is he had never had a strong male role model in his life.

"I had never had a father figure because I didn't have a dad growing up, I only had my mom," said Smith. "I didn't really believe in a male adult and I didn't really think a male would care about me like a woman would."

But Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom changed all of that.

"There's only so much that my mom can tell me that a male can tell me because females don't go through what males go through," said Smith. "Coach Croom has changed a lot of things in my life. He helped me see the light. He helped me see another road that is out there."

For example, Coach Croom wasn't afraid to tell Smith he was headed down the wrong path in life partly due to the type people he was hanging around with.

"Coach Croom told me that I needed to separate myself from certain people if I wanted to do certain things with my life," said Smith.

And he now understands Coach Croom was right.

"I now see that the people that I used to hang around with were not the type people that I should be hanging around with," said Smith. "They weren't doing anything with their life."

Now he's got the right people in his life, including not only his mom, but many, many others.

"There are a lot of people in my life that I don't want to disappoint - my momma, Coach Croom, my coaches, my teammates," said Smith.

And when December roles around he is going to make all those people very happy, especially the one dearest to his heart - his mom.

"I graduate in December," said Smith. "Now that I am about to graduate it is a great feeling because this is what my momma wanted me to come here to do - to get a degree. I am totally excited because I know that's what she really wanted."

Although his ultimate goal is to play in the NFL after graduation, if he doesn't make it in the pros he's not going to stray far from the game of football.

"My goal is go back to Atlanta and be a coach, probably at my high school or a school in my area because football is all I know," said Smith. "And I want to help kids out, leading them in the right direction."

Which is something that he has learned from Sylvester Croom. And when this year's Senior Day roles around, he's going to tell Coach Croom what he has meant to him, not just as a football coach but as a man who cares about him .... and has shown through his actions the depth of that love.

"I don't really know exactly what I am going to say to Coach Croom on Senior Day, but I do know that I am going to thank him," said Smith.

"And I am going to follow his advice because I know he won't lead me in the wrong direction."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

Gene's Page Top Stories