When you think of Super Bowl LVIII you probably think Mahomes, Kelce, McCaffrey, or Purdy. However, there’s one name you might not consider as often, but one that should be very familiar to Tennessee fans – former UT offensive lineman Trey Smith, who played for the Vols from 2017-2020 and is now a Kansas City Chief, celebrating his second consecutive Super Bowl victory after the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 on Sunday.
Smith’s time at Tennessee was marred by health issues, ailments that almost derailed his entire football career. Now Smith is thriving, health-wise and career-wise, having competed for the AFC championship in each of his first three seasons and can add two Super Bowl championships to to his list of accolades.
Tennessee-native Smith started all 12 games as a true freshman. However, midway through his sophomore year, team doctors found blood clots in his lungs, essentially putting his college football career on pause.
“A lot was in jeopardy,” Smith told KCUR in 2023. “Think about it: About four years ago, this might not have happened.”
“It was just a lot of hurdles to jump,” Smith continued. “Ultimately, I had to walk by faith and not by sight.”
Smith was eventually cleared to play his junior year and returned to Knoxville his senior year in lieu of entering the NFL Draft early. When he did declare for the draft in 2021, the Chiefs took him in the sixth round. Originally projected to be a first or second round pick, his health woes held him back – the Chiefs taking him in the later round after team doctors analyzed his condition and felt the rewards were greater than the risks. And they were right. Smith was the 18th player in franchise history to start every regular-season game his rookie year. He only allowed two sacks in 2023 and could help re-establish Tennessee as a top destination for elite offensive line prospects.
Smith’s teammates recognized the value he adds to the offensive line. Tight end Travis Kelce told “Bussin with the Boys” in 2023 that Smith is the team’s “enforcer” when it comes to protecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “Trey Smith, baby,” said Kelce. “He’s a dog, he’s a dog. Just an f–ing beast.”