After last season, Sherman Smith figured he’d be the next man up in Katy’s backfield. As the No. 2 running back to Deondrick Glass, Smith posted a stellar campaign, totaling 907 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018 as a sophomore.
With Glass graduating, Smith thought he’d have his shot as Katy’s premier ballcarrier.
But a circumstance out of his control struck when then-junior Ron Hoff, a key player on a three-time state champion program in South Carolina, transferred to the Tigers in March. Smith did not play in the Tigers’ spring game and was briefly off the roster at one point.
He quickly made it back onto the team, however, and has impressed since.
“I’m pleased with how he’s responded,” coach Gary Joseph said. “He’s willing to do a lot of things to help our football team, and that’s being a team player. It’s not just about Sherman. He understands he’s part of a team and his job is to do what we ask to help our football team. That’s how I want our kids to be, to be unselfish and help our team.”
Smith, currently No. 2 on the depth chart behind Hoff, had his best game of the young season on Sept. 13 in a 65-0 win against Aguilas Blancas IPN Mexico, which plays in a nationwide league made up of 13 colleges with high-school aged teams. The 5-foot-7, 180-pound junior had 107 yards and eight carries with two touchdowns. Junior Jalen Davis, the Tigers’ No. 3 back, had 107 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries.
Their production was more than enough to allow Hoff, who has enjoyed a fast start to his senior season and is one of the top rushers in Class 6A in the Greater Houston area, some rest after he compiled 56 yards and a touchdown on eight carries early in the first half.
“We’ve got three really good running backs, and Sherman is a big part of what we’re doing,” Joseph said. “We have a lot of confidence in all three of them. Sherman runs hard. He brings a different mindset to the table.”
Smith added 15 pounds of muscle during the summer. It shows. He no longer shies away from contact, and Joseph has him as an important part of the Tigers’ goal-line offense.
After totaling 55 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the first two games, Smith had a nice breakout outing in which he looked dominant at times.
Confidence-wise, it can go a long way. Smith has faith in his ability and is playing like it.
“I feel like whoever Coach Joseph wants in, that guy is going to do their thing,” Smith said. “It can be me, Jalen or Ron. No matter who’s in, something big is going to happen. Even if we put a fullback back there, that guy is going to do what they do. When I get my chance, I’m just going out there to do what I know I can do.”
Smith admitted that, initially, he was frustrated by the circumstances in the spring. But he quickly learned to embrace it.
“The best man is going to play,” he said. “I know if I go out there and make plays, and if I keep going hard in practice all week, it will help me. There’s nothing wrong with competition. It’s going to be the same way in college.”
Instead of worrying about what he couldn’t control, Smith focused on what he could. He said he has gotten better. He worked tirelessly on adding muscle and his speed. He is more decisive when he runs, not chopping his feet and “dancing,” as coaches like to scoff about running backs who take too long to find their way.
“This year, I get it and go,” he said.
Others have noticed.
“He’s a kid who will go in there and work,” junior quarterback Bronson McClelland said. “He’ll do what he’s told to do, put his head down and run the ball. The game is slowing down a lot for him. The holes are opening up. He’s seeing the cutback lanes. Stuff like that is really good.”
Smith is a high-energy player in practices. He is positive and uplifting on social media. He is in a good place.
The Tigers are more dangerous because of it.
“We’re on a roll,” Smith said. “We’re going to keep it going.”