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January 19, 2012After his sophomore year in high school Dennis Smith had everything figured out. He committed to Texas A&M and was officially the Aggies first early commit in the 2012 class. But Smith explained it didn't work out as planned and he had fight back like he has all his life.
The Hard Way
When Smith was five years old his mother and father got a divorce. He moved out along with his brother, Maurice, and they stayed in several places. His mother, Peggy, tried everything she could to keep a roof over their heads.
"It was a tough life as a child," Smith said. "We would live in the woods, our car, our wherever we could stay."
The family moved from Houston to Louisiana. Three years later they moved to West Orange, Tex., where Smith started to take an interest in football. There was one problem with his dreams of getting on the field.
"I was over the weight limit," he said. "It was 130 pounds and I was close to 150. So I would run around track while they did football practice."
His brother started to hang with the wrong crowd so they moved in with their aunt. That's when Smith started to see his mother use drugs and contacted CPS (Child Protection Services). Going into eighth grade he moved in with his real father.
"He tried to be a good dad but he had a lot of other things going on," Smith said. "It wasn't a good situation for me. So I moved back to Wimberley."
That's when he grew a bond with Brennan Blakemore, a starting wide receiver at Wimberley. Smith moved in with the Blakemore's as a freshman. That year he rushed for 1000 yards and was named the Austin American Statesman Newcomer of the Year.
"But I was depressed," Smith said. "I started to hang with the wrong crowd again. I was thinking about growing up the way I did and all the problems."
The Blakemore's gave Smith a solid home. However, it resulted in another change of address. He moved out and was homeless for a month.
By then Texas A&M recognized his talents. They verbally offered after his sophomore year and Smith accepted. He was the first commitment of the Aggie's 2012 class.
Climbing back on top
Midway through his junior year at Wimberley Smith broke his foot. Then he was suspended for breaking a team violation. Smith said he and A&M parted ways and he no longer had an offer.
He was getting everything back together and ready for his senior year. He was in great shape. He had a big summer. He was ready for a new beginning going into his last year.
"I had hit rock-bottom when I moved out of the Blakemore's," Smith said. "I knew I had to get my mind right. One day I just got down on my knees and prayed. I took God in my life. I know he has a plan for me. Everything I have gone through has made me a better and stronger person."
When everything appeared on track Smith broke his foot again before his senior year. But he worked hard in rehab and was cleared to play. He returned with a vengeance leading Wimberley to the state title. He scored two touchdowns in the title game and was named Offensive MVP.
It wouldn't be so easy
Smith said everything was falling into place. College recruiters had come back around. His grades were improving. His life was on solid ground. Coaches from Iowa State, Michigan, Colorado State, Colorado, SMU, and others entered the picture.
When everything was looking good, bad circumstances struck again. Last Sunday morning Smith and his close friend and cousin, Jonnathan Robinson, were driving home when their car veered off the road. His cousin, better known as Bubba, was killed.
It has been a difficult week for Smith. On Monday he spoke at a memorial for Bubba which was held at the school's football stadium.
"This has been very hard on me," Smith said. "It has been difficult. We were very close. I have been emotional all week. I am trying to keep my head up and move forward. I know Bubba would have wanted me to do it that way. It isn't easy."
Looking at the future
This weekend Smith was supposed to visit Colorado State. Those plans have changed because of his cousin's funeral.
Kansas is one of the schools to recently enter the picture. Smith said Kansas assistants Rob Ianello and Clint Bowen have been in contact making their recruiting pitch. Before the staff was complete quality control member Kyle Brey made initial contact according to Smith.
"Coach Ianello and Bowen have been great," he said. "Coach Bowen came by school and showed me more about Kansas. Their facilities look good and the campus is beautiful. I plan to take a visit (Jan. 27) and see everything. Right now Kansas is my top school."
Smith, 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, has all the talent to attract college recruiters. In one game he rushed for 230 yards and six touchdowns on a broken foot. He's battled all his life and believes good things are ahead.
"I have kept my grades up," he said. "God has a plan for me. I am a better person for what I have been through. I've always wanted a family and it has made stronger."