All the talk of the Super Bowl is about Patrick Mahomes reaching next-level stardom, Andy Reid winning another title and the heartbreak of Jalen Hurts. However, a former Tennessee football player should steal the show.
Less than four years ago, there were questions over whether or not Trey Smith would ever be able to play again. Despite earning first-team All-SEC in every full season he started for the Vols, he had to miss significant time due to blood clots in his lungs.
Now, Smith is a Super Bowl champion. He didn’t just win a Super Bowl either. Starting at right guard for the Kansas City Chiefs, Smith anchored a line that didn’t allow a sack Sunday and paved the way for 158 rushing yards, averaging over six on the ground, against the best defensive line in football.
This was a huge part of why KC was able to come back from a 24-14 deficit to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 for their second title in four years. Mahomes’ production came from his protection, and Smith was part of that.
This was the best performance by a Tennessee football offensive lineman since Raleigh McKenzie helped pave the way for Washington to average over seven yards a carry and gain nearly 300 yards on the ground back in Super Bowl XXII in 1988. That’s pretty good company.
Remember, Smith’s issues kept him out of offseason practices in 2018 and 2019 and cut his 2018 season short. Still, he decided to return for his senior season in 2020 to get his degree, fulfilling a promise to his late mother, who dies of breast cancer.
Then COVID hit. UT went 3-7, a massive pay for play scandal broke, and Jeremy Pruitt was fired. This outdid their disastrous 4-8 campaign Smith’s first year in 2017, which resulted in Butch Jones’ firing, despite him earning Freshman All-American honors.
Simply put, Smith had to labor through the worst years of the program and had his own health issues. Then he fell to the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Less than two years later, though, he’s a Super Bowl champion.
That story alone is incredible. However, on the field, it’s not like Smith was just a part of winning a championship. He was a key part of the Chiefs’ offense being able to do what it did against the Eagles all night.
From an individual perspective, nobody did a better job maintaining their blocks than Smith in the game. There was a reason Mahomes was able to look like a magician with his legs at times. He also was a big help on runs.
Anybody who watched Smith play knew he was destined to be a star at guard in the NFL. He’s a great leader, an incredible blocker and is very smart. By his second year, he was a staple on the offensive line.
Smith is with the same franchise that served as the home for another beloved former Vol who had medical issues, Eric Berry. In 2014, Berry’s season was cut short due to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. One season later, he returned as an All-Pro safety and won Comeback Player of the Year.
As a second-year player, Smith could now be in line for a huge payday, or he could be part of a dynasty in KC. Hey, maybe it’s both. It didn’t take long for him to legitimize his NFL career.
Going forward, you could easily see him turn into a leader in the Chiefs’ locker room. Smith’s talent stands out in his own right, but as everybody affiliated with Tennessee football knows, his intangibles are off the charts. That is starting to show in a big way.