Former BHS player inducted into GSU Hall of Fame

Published 4:54 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Robert Smith had a solid playing career and was honored for it Saturday as he was one of 10 former Tigers athletes inducted to the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame.

“I was honored to be part of one of the 10 people they chose,” Smith said. “It was a special moment for me and family.”

Smith, who graduated from Bogalusa High School in 1980, started four years at Grambling.

Smith was the man known as “Big Bird,” which he said was a nickname he got in junior high school, because he was tall and skinny. Smith also added that he “could fly” (ran a 4.5-second 40 as a tight end in high school). He was a two-time All-American, (junior and senior seasons) and compiled 384 tackles and 48.5 sacks over his collegiate career.

During his time at Bogalusa, Smith was a tight end, but moved to defensive end at GSU.

“The transition was unexpected because I did not expect to play defensive line at Grambling, but coach Robinson and his staff had a different plan for me and it was greatest thing to happen for me,” Smith said.

Smith’s coach was the legendary Grambling coach Eddie Robinson, who recorded a 408-165-15 record in 57 years at Grambling.

He was just one of several legends Smith played for.

At Bogalusa, he played under Lewis V. Murray Jr., for whom the school’s football stadium is named.

“When you think about Bogalusa High School and the number of athletes that have gone on to play in the NFL, somebody had to instill that structure,” Smith said. “Coach Murray made the transition from junior high to high school real easy. We knew what to expect.”

After his college career, Smith, a 1984 Grambling graduate, was drafted in the first round of the United States Football League by the Arizona Wranglers. He also spent time in the NFL, the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League.

During his professional career, he played under legendary coaches George Allen (USFL), Tom Landry (Dallas Cowboys) and Bud Grant (Minnesota Vikings).

After speaking about Murray, Smith discussed the historic coaches he played for in college and the pros.

“Each was unique in their own ways. When I played for Eddie Robinson, he was a father figure. That’s how he approached it with us,” Smith said. “When I left there, I went to Arizona and George Allen felt like you should have sledge hammer on the field and tackle everything in your sight.

“When I left there, I went to Minnesota. Bud Grant was just the opposite. He wanted you to do it the smart way and use your brain, not your muscle. I think Tom Landry was way ahead of his game. He was in the computers. He was in the formulas and the tendencies. Each one of these guys were great at their time at what they were doing.”

Following his professional playing career, Smith went home to teach and was an assistant coach under Eugene Butler at Bogalusa Junior High School.

After that, he went to Grambling and coached the Tigers’ defensive line under Robinson from 1992-98.

Currently, Smith is a business manager at UPS and runs one of the largest operations in the Houston area.

Smith and his wife Vaneda live in Houston and have five children, Robert II, Nicholas, Chelsea, Vaneda and Joiya. They are the grandparents of Raynia Temple and Robert “Trey” B. Smith III.