‘Dream’ lives on for Southern’s Smith

May. 22, 2014 @ 09:48 PM

One half of the sibling duo that helped form Southern Vance’s dynamic defense is bound for the next level.

Senior Deon Smith, the reigning 2-A Northern Carolina Conference Defensive Back of the Year, will play football at Division III N.C. Wesleyan.

Deon shifted from defensive back to linebacker midway through the 2013 season and finished with 140 tackles, second on the team only to his brother, junior linebacker Sheldon Smith.

“It’s been a dream to me since rec league,” Deon Smith said Thursday in a signing ceremony at Southern. “I always wanted to play football no matter what I do. As long as I play football, I think I’ll be happy.”

Deon Smith becomes the fourth Raider from the 2013 team to earn a spot on a college football roster, following DeAndre’ Jefferson (Methodist), Ja’Quez Bullock (N.C. State) and Ty-Traveon Roberts, Deon Smith’s future N.C. Wesleyan teammate.

Southern head coach Lewis Young expects two more Raiders to sign.

“To me, it’s about getting our guys into college,” said Young. “That’s one of the key things we pride ourselves on, getting as many as we can in college and ready in college.”

Young said moving Deon Smith to linebacker gave the Raiders a big lift down the stretch as they won three of four games to close the regular season before upsetting South Columbus in the first round of the state playoffs.  

At 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds, Deon Smith has grown accustomed to being labeled undersized.

“A lot of people do consider me to be undersized, but that doesn’t faze me,” said Deon Smith.

Deon Smith also lined up at receiver and running back for Southern and either — along with defensive back — are possibilities for the Battling Bishops.

Young said the Smiths’ positive attitudes make them stand out.

“Yes sir, no sir,” said Young, who described Deon Smith as a shutdown corner with possibly the best hands on the team. “Anything you ask them to do, they never complain. If I say run five laps, they just do it and never complain. They’re really humble. They do things the old school way.”

Deon Smith’s 3.75 GPA helped him earn a full academic scholarship to N.C. Wesleyan, where he plans to study sports medicine.

The dream continues for Deon — and for his parents, who had been confident a day like Thursday was on the horizon.

“It’s kind of emotional because my baby is leaving home, but I’m proud and I’m happy,” said Deon’s mother, Sharon Smith. “I just hope he continues to work hard and get the degree.”

“Just being the man he is,” added Deon’s father, Samuel Smith, “I’ve seen it coming.”