Cleveland Browns rookie fullback/tight end
Growing up in Tuscaloosa, Smelley led his high school team, the American Christian Academy, to the state semifinals during his senior season. He turned that preparatory career into a scholarship at Alabama, where he played in 47 career games as a tight end and H-back. Two of the those games were National Championship contests, and on Monday, Smelley will be in Miami to watch the Crimson Tide pursue their third National Championship in four seasons.
“I’m proud of those guys and the coaching staff,” Smelley said. “You can’t say enough about what they do down there with recruiting, coaching the players up. Those players, they work. They work really hard to get where they’re at. Nothing is given to them and nothing was given to us. I’m just extremely excited to see them play and watch them, hopefully, bring home three titles in four years.”
During his career at Alabama, Smelley recorded 54 catches, for 559 yards and four touchdowns. As a senior, he caught 34 passes for 356 yards and four scores in 13 games. He made 10 starts as a tight end for the Crimson Tide’s National Championship team.
In the title game against Louisiana State University, Smelley hauled in a game-best seven passes for 39 yards.
Being on the national stage at Alabama and playing for former Browns assistant Nick Saban left quite an impression on Smelley.
“It’s indescribable,” Smelley said. “There’s so much riding on that game, but I think Coach Saban does a good job of simplifying things. Everybody’s watching. It’s the biggest game of the year in college football, but really, you’ve got to focus on the little things that will help you achieve what you want to achieve instead of looking at the big picture.
“That starts all the way back at practice, from your first bowl practice to your last bowl practice and the last play of the game. It’s all about the little things, doing what’s right and at the end, you’ll get the result that you want.”
Smelley left Alabama a two-time National Champion and the current class of seniors has an opportunity to win their third title. That is a trend Smelley does not see changing any time soon.
“It’s a top-of-the-line program and even in the last five years, it’s gotten better and better,” Smelley said. “I don’t really see it slowing down.”