March 25, 2003
COLUMBIA – The record-setting quarterback of the Missouri Tigers is a truth-filled Christian who is well aware that people throughout the state are looking up to him.
"My whole life is about God, and doing things for Him that He might get the glory," said Brad Smith. "Just by working hard, and trying to do the best that I can, hopefully it will affect somebody in a positive way and they will also come to Christ."
Brad was an 11-year-old boy who was obediently attending church with his mother, Sherri Smith, when he came to know Jesus as his Lord. The covenantal impact of the people closest to him—his family, his football coach and his good friends—has been important in his sanctification. As a 19-year-old leader in a football program where much has been placed on his shoulders, Brad keeps growing in thankfulness as he builds upon his strong, spiritual foundation.
"I can go through life without worrying about things happening, trusting that everything’s going to work out, and I can just be the best that I can be, without a doubt," he said. "Just knowing that God’s always there, and people like my family, and other people at my church are there to support me, it’s changed my life, and it’s a big part of my life now."
Growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, Brad became known for his integrity. His high school coach, Ron Berdis, called him too good to be true. "If my 12-year-old turns out like Brad Smith," Berdis once told the Youngstown Vindicator, "then I’m a success as a parent."
|Missouri quarterback Brad Smith picks apart defenses with a confidence that God is in control of what takes place. Photo courtesy of Mizzou Sports information|
As Brad matured into the 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback that he is today, is character remained exemplary. Even the recruiting process seemed providential. Ohio State and Penn State, schools close to his hometown that ought to have been interested, ignored him. He was left to choose from among a lesser tier of programs that included schools like Northwestern, Wake Forest and Bowling Green. The best choice seemed clear: It would be Missouri.
Missouri plays in the Big 12 Conference, which enables Brad to compete against some of the top programs in the country. The Missouri football program also has a head coach who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. Honest in their approach and earnest in their mutual drive to win, head coach Gary Pinkel and quarterback Brad Smith seem ideally suited for each other.
"Just to know that he’s a Christian, and that he’s trying to do things right, that definitely has had an effect on our team and on me personally," Brad said. "I don’t have to worry about things going crooked, or not right, that God’s in control. It’s definitely more comforting. It’s exciting that God blesses those who serve Him."
After sitting out the 2001 season as a redshirt freshman, Brad became a Missouri legend in one spectacular campaign. He seized the starting quarterback job and proceeded to obliterate the single-season record for total offense by a Tiger quarterback, racking up 3,362 yards to destroy the former standard of 2,545 set by Corby Jones in 1997.
The manner in which he executed the offense was near-perfect in that Missouri scored 360 points, the third-highest total in school history, while turning the ball over only 11 times.
Brad, who is the only freshman quarterback in Missouri history to ever start a season, was named first-team freshman All-American. He became only the second player in NCAA Division I history to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. With three more years of eligibility, Brad has an upside that would appear to be substantial.
"Reading the passages about being humble" is how he remains focused, he said. The Bible is what he studies because "God blesses those who are humble." Even those who do not claim to follow Christ within the Missouri program recognize Brad as a religious young man who sets a good example for other players. If Missouri is going to break its habit of losing, Brad must lead out of the wellspring of his love for Jesus.
"Knowing that all things are possible, we have to work first," he said. "It’s not just going to come easy. If we keep on doing that, and believe in ourselves, great things can happen. We’re just working right now and trying to give God something to work with."
Brad understands that he is indwelt with the spirit of Christ and he longs to serve the many people he comes in contact with on a regular basis. In his soul lives the victory of that Christ, the Jesus who bled and died for the souls of men.
How might he tell others of his love for Jesus?
"By the way I live," he said. "That’s what I try to do. That’s one of my goals, to let God’s light shine through my schoolwork, on the field, off the field, always being happy and excited. There’s no room for being sad. The joy of the Lord is always there."