“Everything happens for a reason.” For Green Bay Blizzard running back Terrence Smith, this phrase reflects the journey he has taken to get to where he is today.
Smith grew up in Mays Landing, New Jersey, about 45 minutes south of Philadelphia.
His cousin, NFL Hall of Famer Ty Law, won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.
Knowing his family ties, one would think that Smith would’ve started playing football at an extremely young age. Smith wanted to play peewee football. However, his mom was hesitant to let her son play so young.
In late elementary school, Smith’s teacher gave students the assignment of writing down what their dreams were.
“I said my dream was to be an NFL football player,” Smith explained. “I also wrote, ‘but I can’t because my mom is crushing my dreams.’” Upon reading the assignment, Smith’s teacher called his mom. His grandma happened to hear the phone call and finally convinced his mom to let Terrence play one year before middle school.
Once Smith got the opportunity to play football, he never looked back. He received his first college offer from the prestigious Army West Point in the summer of 2015. “I was extremely happy. It was very unexpected,” he said.
After West Point filled all their running back spots for Smith’s class, the school rescinded his offer, leaving Smith wondering what was next for him and his football career.
Eventually, Smith moved across the country and landed at Cabrillo Community College, a junior college near Santa Cruz, California. After an impressive first year, he earned the opportunity to transfer to Division I University of San Diego. There, he racked up 1526 yards and 18 touchdowns over his career.
After college, Smith knew he wanted to continue playing football. To pay the bills, he picked up a few odds-and-ends jobs while hoping to sign with an XFL team.
When he didn’t get an XFL draft invite, he signed with the San Diego Strike Force — a fellow member of the IFL — prior to the start of the 2023 season. In late February, less than a week before training camp began, he was traded to the Blizzard.
Now in Green Bay, Smith can’t think of a better place to be. “I’m grateful to be here in Green Bay. It’s a football town… people have been amazing,” he said.
Smith has been a huge part of the Blizzard offense. He has scored at least one touchdown in every game this season and has recorded several multiple-touchdown games. But he’s not complacent with just scoring; Smith wants his game to be multi-faceted.
“I try to model my game after Le’Veon Bell,” Smith explained. “He redefined how we see a running back today and what’s asked of us. You can’t just run the ball exclusively anymore; you have to be able to catch the ball, run routes, and pass block. [Bell] is not a running back. He’s an all-purpose back. I try to embody that when I play.”
And he has. He’s been a reliable presence in the passing game, returns kicks on special teams, and takes on the pass rush to protect his quarterback. “Terrence is an absolute problem on the field,” Blizzard Offensive Coordinator Matt Behrendt said. “His football IQ is off the charts… He is such a valuable part of this offense and is going to continue to get better with the more reps he gets.”
With all this success, Smith has set big goals for himself this season. “I would love to win Offensive Rookie of the Year… I want to lead the league in touchdowns, from any position, but especially out of all the running backs,” he said.
A quiet leader, Smith has earned the respect of his teammates, coaches, and Blizzard staff. “Terrence is one of the hardest working and toughest backs I’ve had the pleasure to coach,” Behrendt said.
Off the field, Smith has been active in the Green Bay community, making appearances at local schools and coaching kids at YMCA football clinics. It’s no surprise that Smith says, “My biggest goal is to have a nonprofit.”
Reflecting on his journey, Smith is grateful for all of the “no’s” that led him to where he is today. “I really think that the man above wanted me to see things outside of football,” he said.
Regardless of where his life takes him next, Smith is confident that everything will work out, knowing that “everything happens for a reason.”