Pinkerton Academy football fans have every reason to be excited about the Astros’ 2015 defense of their Division I title. And knowing that tough and speedy senior running back T.J. Urbanik is once again the centerpiece of the PA offense is a big part of that excitement.
But another lightning-fast running back, Emmitt Smith, preceded Urbanik in being that backfield speedster who was just one cut or one block away from reeling off a long touchdown sprint.
Four years later, Smith is stepping into the fourth and final year of his collegiate grid career at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. And the Falcons found that the greatest use for the former Pinkerton star was not in the offensive backfield but in the defensive backfield.
After playing in seven games and returning kicks as a special teams weapon for coach Thom Boerman’s 8-2 Bentley bunch in his freshman year of 2012, the speedy Smith was converted into a defensive back for the 2013 season, during which Boerman’s gridders went 6-5 overall.
Last fall, Smith continued to be a stalwart at defensive back for new head coach Bill Kavanaugh’s Falcons, who ended up at 5-6 overall and 3-6 in the New England 10 Conference.
During his days at Pinkerton, Smith was a First Team All-State selection in both football and track and field, and his twin sister, Abbey, has gone on to a noteworthy track career at the University of New Hampshire.
Emmitt, who is pursuing an accounting degree at Bentley and remains the same kind of superb student he was at Pinkerton, played in seven contests for the 2012 Bentley football squad and returned five kickoffs for 90 yards, with his longest return a 27-yard effort against Merrimack College.
In his sophomore gridiron campaign of 2013, Smith made the move to defensive back and ended up starting eight of the Falcons’ 11 games, including playing the last seven of the campaign at cornerback.
The former Astro star placed second on his team in pass-breakups with nine, and eighth in tackles, with 41. Twenty-six of those tackles were of the solo variety.
Smith also forced and recovered a fumble in his team’s game against Stonehill, tallied a career-high nine tackles against Southern Connecticut, blocked a point-after attempt and returned four kickoffs against New Haven, and collected six unassisted tackles against Saint Anselm.
As had been the case during his career at Pinkerton, Smith was proving himself to be a player who made things happen on the football field at Bentley.
Last fall, during his junior campaign, he played in 10 games for the Falcons and notched his first career interception and tallied a total of 23 tackles (14 unassisted) for a squad that ended up a game under the .500 mark overall.
Smith and the Falcons will officially kick off their 2015 season on Saturday, Sept. 5, at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa.