It’s the balance that’s been a bit of a challenge for D.J. Smith.
The former South Carolina football safety has been done with college football for more than a year. He came back to school, recently finished his degree, is finding his way professionally. But there’s still a part of him not ready to give up the game he loves.
“It’s been pretty difficult,” Smith said. “As far as the corporate world, just figuring all of that out has just been a challenge. Football is going to be with me. I’m always going to want to do something with football. But I know playing football has opened doors, other avenues for me to take. So whatever God’s got in store for me, I’m going to do it, but I’m definitely going to keep working with football.”
He said he’s still trying to work out, still trying to maybe catch on with a team in some way.
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He went unsigned after the 2017 season. But he still kept at it, trying to extend the career a little longer. And while he did that, he also took some of the steps toward the working world.
“I came back to school to get my diploma,” Smith said in December. “I actually just got a job at State Farm, so I’m going to see how that works out. But obviously I’m going to still be working out at the same time. I’m still figuring out my quest and my route and my purpose in life. So it ain’t over just yet. I know a lot of people have been asking what I’ve been up to.
“I feel like I’ve still got a shot, so I’m going to get back to my training, see how that goes.”
Smith was a two-year starter in Columbia, a former four-star corner who found a home at safety. He ranked first on the team in tackles with 80 as a junior, and fifth with 50 as a senior.
He also was a hitter with little fear, occasionally getting tossed from games for targeting.
The Marietta, Ga., product admitted it wasn’t the easiest watching USC games this year. It was not because he didn’t enjoy seeing younger players he worked with step into bigger roles but just because he missed being out there.
“It’s been hard, I’m not going to lie,” Smith said. “Just not being able to play with those guys, but I had a good time. It was a lot of good players who played on this team. A lot of young guys who played early.
“I got love for all those boys.”