"It's been a difficult decision - something I've been thinking and praying about for awhile," said Smelley. "I'm leaving South Carolina with a lot of memories and great relationships that will last a lifetime. I'm very thankful to the University and to Coach Spurrier for the opportunity to play football for the Gamecocks and wish my teammates the very best. I'm going to play baseball at another school that I'm still deciding on," continued Smelley. "I talked to Coach Tanner about playing baseball here. I have great respect for him. Under different circumstances I would have loved to have had the chance to play for him. He's a great coach, but I decided it was best for me to have a change of scenery and move on elsewhere."
Smelley, a 6-2, 211-pound redshirt sophomore played in 21 games for the Gamecocks during his career. He was 5-4 as a starter in 2008 and 9-6 in 15 career starts. He completed 169-of-302 passes (56.0 percent) for 1,922 yards and 14 touchdowns with 15 interceptions during the 2008 campaign. He was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the Gamecocks 31-24 win at Ole Miss after he completed 22-of-32 passes for a career-high 327 yards and three touchdowns.
For his career, he completed 270-of-479 passes (56.4 percent) for 3,210 yards with 23 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He ranks eighth on Carolina's all-time list in career pass completions (270), ninth in pass attempts (479), fourth in completion percentage (56.4) and ninth in passing touchdowns (22). He won back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Week honors in 2007 after leading the Gamecocks to wins over Mississippi State and Kentucky. Smelley won each of his first four starts at Carolina, matching Ron Bass and Steve Taneyhill for the best start by a Gamecock quarterback.
"We admire and appreciate the character, integrity and the way Chris Smelley has handled himself both on and off the field as a Carolina football player," said Gamecocks' head coach Steve Spurrier. "He has helped us win a lot of games over the past two years. We understand his desire to give baseball a try and wish Chris much success in the future."
Smelley was an outstanding high school baseball player at American Christian High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., earning all-state honors. He led his team to the state title in both 2004 and 2005, earning MVP honors at the 2005 Alabama State Finals. He was recognized as a Super 9 baseball player by the Tuscaloosa News and was a Super 12 player according to the Birmingham News.
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