PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — On Saturday, three Panama City natives battled it out inside Doak Campbell Stadium on the campus of Florida State University.
The Seminoles defeated the Alabama State (ASU) Hornets 49- 12 on Senior Day.
One of those natives is Randall Smith who is now a junior defensive lineman at ASU. Smith is a graduate of Rutherford High School.
While he grew up in Panama City, Smith says the community didn’t always have his back.
“At the end of the day, Panama City didn’t believe me at all. No one believed in me and they didn’t think I was going to graduate high school,” Smith said.
Even though doubt surrounded him, Smith says he never backed down from the challenges he faced.
“I had to tough it, try my best to pass all my classes. People still didn’t believe I was going to make it to college and I did have offers. I had people trying to talk to me but I didn’t have the ACT scores so people were like ‘this man is not going to make it,” Smith said.
His dream to play division one football though, Smith says is what fueled him to prove everyone wrong.
“I used to cry at night. Saying, ‘Mom, I’m really trying to go division one. I’m not trying to go division two or JUCO’ so my mom and dad just made decisions to take the prep school route.”
After high school, Smith attended prep school before coming to ASU in 2017.
“I didn’t even come and visit. I said ‘let me go ahead and just sign the papers because I really want my dream to come true’ and I always prayed about it and my dreams came true.”
As he continues his college career, Smith says he hopes others are inspired by his struggle; proving it’s not about where you start, but how you finish.
“It’s a big blessing. I’m really happy, I’m like, man I made it really far from where I came from. I’m happy.”
Smith will be graduating this December with a degree in Criminal Justice. He will remain at ASU for his senior season.
Smith and Janarius Robinson, a Bay High School alumni and current FSU Seminole, are cousins.