Pro player to honor former teammate at camp
Andrew Smith Jr. Football CampWhen: Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bay City
Who: Boys ages 6-17
Registration: 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Adrian Awasom prefers to remember Andrew Smith's life and not his death.
Awasom and Smith were teammates at the University of North Texas when Smith was killed in an auto collision in August of 2004 while returning from his Bay City home to Denton for fall drills.
Awasom lived across the hall from Smith in the dorm and they played football together for three seasons at North Texas.
"We were pretty close," Awasom said. "There were six or seven of us who were pretty tight."
Awasom will a get a chance to pay tribute to his friend as an instructor at the Andrew Smith Jr. Football Camp on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bay City.
The camp is its sixth year and has funded three $500 scholarships each year, according to Andrew Smith Sr., who founded the camp as a tribute to his son.
Smith passed for 2,281 yards and 23 touchdowns during his senior season at Bay City and the Blackcats won the Class 4A, Division I state championship.
Smith became the starting quarterback at North Texas during his redshirt freshman season and and led the team to a Sun Belt Conference championship and a 24-19 win over Cincinnati in the 2002 New Orleans Bowl.
Smith became the only quarterback in North Texas history to direct the team to the conference championship with an undefeated, untied conference record and a win a bowl game in the same season.
"I remember that like it was yesterday," Awasom said. "The way he stepped in and did the job. He really led us. No matter how you look at it, we wouldn't have been there without Andrew Smith.
"What he did really didn't sink in until the whole year was over. He took it and just ran with it. Of course, you have the ups and downs of a journey. But the outcome turned out to be positive."
Awasom was an all-conference defensive end at North Texas and played three seasons for the New York Giants.
He is currently playing for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.
"I was pretty fortunate to get on a good team," Awasom said of Las Vegas, which is coached by former Giants coach Jim Fassel. "The organization is pretty professional. The talent is still good. It isn't the real bright lights. The people out there are a little bit hungrier. They're trying to get back to the league."
Awasom would like another crack at the NFL, but he's looking forward to traveling from his home in Stafford to work with the campers.
"I just like to reach out to children," Awasom said. "We are really giving something back to the community. We're doing something that Drew would be doing. It will give us a chance to talk to the kids and give them a little more than they normally hear."
Awasom still misses Smith, but he's thankful for the chance to honor his friend.
"It's kind of difficult," Awasom said. "But the family really stresses the camp. It gets everybody back together. It's keeping that part of Drew alive."