He’s not eligible to toss his name in the barrel for 2009, but former South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley says he will strongly consider suiting up for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team in 2010.
“It’s a thought,” Smelley said. “I talked to Coach Saban about it when I first got here. It’s a little time down the road. I have to sit out this year, won’t be able to play for, what, a year-and-a-half or so, but it’s something I’d definitely be considering strongly.”
Lil’ Bumpity-Bump for da’ road. Don’t let your meat loaf Ol’ Ball Coach…
The Tuscaloosa native transferred back home last month to play baseball for the Tide and is currently enrolled at The University. If he does decide he wants to get back under center, he’d have to sit out a season, as he said, and would only have one remaining year of eligibility.
HOW IT CAME TO BE
Fans may remember Smelley, who graduated from Tuscaloosa’s American Christian Academy (ACA) in 2006. He appeared to be the only other signal-caller beside Tim Tebow on Alabama’s radar for most of the ’05-’06 recruiting season.
Mike Shula, ‘Bama’s coach back then, seemed to be the lone human in all the world that didn’t realize Tebow, college football’s most sought-after recruit that year, was a Florida lock – and that the masquerade of a “tough decision” between the Gators and Tide was undoubtedly cooked up by ESPN producers as a storyline for the network’s nationally televised documentary devoted to following around the all-star prospect during his recruitment.
Oh, howdy Coach. Welcome to our lovely town, Smallville Ponte Vedra Beach! Timmy’s back in his room G-chatting with Urban handcrafting Bibles for homeless children. Please wipe your feet on our specially ordered blue-and-orange door mat from the Florida Athletic Department Pottery Barn. Wouldn’t want to track any kryptonite dust in here…Timmy’s allergic to that, you know! What’s the glove for?
Shula spent like 99 hours at Tebow’s home near the Atlantic coast the days before the current UF quarterback’s decision – he apparently missed the Florida Gator helmet mailbox on the way in. Or maybe he forced himself to avert his eyes and pray his last hours-effort on Timmy T would somehow alter the course of fate, as Smelley had committed to South Carolina by the time he reached the Tebow driveway.
The UA coach spent what he surely believed was quality recruiting time with the former Nease High star, probably sitting in Tebow’s bedroom under Florida football posters, bonding as only quarterbacks can…
See Timbo, us left-handed quarterbacks aren’t freaks! We just have a different blind side…and get poor penmanship grades in elementary school because our stupid cow of a teacher doesn’t notice we’re left-handed…and then when she does finally notice, we have to wear these weird gloves when we write so we don’t smudge the ink! It’s totally normal!
…but the rest is history, as they say.
While Shula was attempting to fit a giant iron block in a tiny iron circle, S.C. coach Steve Spurrier was on Smelley like Jimmy Johns on an eightball, even though the talented QB in ‘Bama’s own backyard reportedly wanted to play for his hometown college.
Alabama never even offered him.
So it goes, Shula hadn’t completely ditched Plan C amid the Tebow ordeal, however. Almost immediately after the “shocking” ESPN commitment announcement and coinciding loss of Smelley to the Gamecocks, the ‘Bama coaching staff jumped all over Texas high school senior Greg McElroy and eventually convinced the Lone Star slinger, who looked like an eight-grader compared to Tebow, to sign with the Tide. McElroy is now a junior in Tuscaloosa and is the favorite to replace three-year starting QB John Parker Wilson as the leader of the offense.
Spurrier promised Smelley “a chance to compete,” and that’s what he got during his three seasons in Columbia. He played in the first two games of his freshman year before being injured for the remainder of ’06. He then competed for the starting QB position over the next two seasons, even sporadically starting over the course of that time. Never able to secure the solid leading role, however, Smelley decided in January 2009 he wanted to come back to Tuscaloosa to try his luck on the baseball diamond.
When Bear Bryant returned to The Capstone to coach in 1958, he told reporters, “Mama called, and when Mama calls, then you just have to come running.”
No idea if Chris Smelley feels the same about his return to Tuscaloosa. Maybe he just wants consistent playing time in some damned sport. But if he chooses to put back on the pads in 2010, he might be able to get just that.
Playing time won’t come easy, though, Chris…that McElroy kid that Alabama signed instead of you – word is he’s turned into one helluva football player.