- Height: 5' 9"
- Weight: 207 lbs.
- Date Of Birth: May 15, 1969
- Hometown: Pensacola, Florida
- College: University of Florida
- Mascot: Albert E. Gator
- High School: Escambia High School
- Position: Running Back (RB)
- Draft: 1st round, 17th overall, Dallas Cowboys
Emmitt Smith was told he was too small. Despite the fact that he had incredible high school and college football careers, most teams in the NFL deemed him too small. Sixteen teams passed by him in the draft, and Smith spent the next fifteen years showing those teams why they were wrong.
Smith was born on May 15, 1969 in Pensacola, Florida. He started his football career at Escambia High School in Florida and helped turn the floundering program into a winner. He rushed for 19 touchdowns and over 1,500 yards as a freshman and then blew those numbers away the following year with 26 touchdowns and over 2,200 yards. That year, his sophomore year, he also led Escambia to win their first ever state football championship. Smith just continued to get better, and his junior year he rushed for 33 touchdowns and just over 2,900 yards, and he once again led Escambia to the state title. His senior year Escambia was unable to repeat as champions, but Smith posted lofty numbers yet again with 28 touchdowns and over 1,900 yards rushing. He finished his high school career with some extremely impressive stats: 8,804 rushing yards and 106 touchdowns. Smith is considered by some to be the best offensive player in high school football history.
Upon graduating high school, Smith decided to stay close to home and play football at the University of Florida. Smith made an immediate impact on the Gators, rushing for a school record 224 yards in the third game of the year, his first start. He finished his freshman year leading the Southeastern Conference (SEC) with 1,341 yards rushing. He fell just short of 1,000 yards (998) as a sophomore due to missing time with a knee injury. However, he returned to form as a junior in 1989 and amassed a school record 1,599 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. That year he was a First Team All-American and finished seventh in the Heisman voting, college football’s most prestigious award. He decided to leave Florida early and enter the NFL Draft in 1990 after his junior year. He left the Gators as one of the most prolific runners in school history, holding numerous game, season, and career records.
Despite all his high school and college football accolades, Smith was not drafted until the 17th pick of the first round in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had suffered through an awful season the year before, winning only one game. Owner Jerry Jones was counting on Smith to be a foundation for the Cowboys’ offense, and Smith delivered in a big way. He rushed for 937 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie in 1990 and was voted NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. In 1991, Smith exploded for over 1,500 yards rushing, the first of five years in a row he rushed for over 1,400 yards, and the first of eleven straight seasons he rushed for over 1,000 yards; both of these streaks are NFL records. He collected a career-high 1,773 rushing yards and set an NFL record with 25 rushing touchdowns in 1995 (the record was broken in 2006 by LaDainian Tomlinson). He helped lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in 1992, 1993, and 1995. He was named NFL MVP in 1993, MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII, and was selected to eight Pro Bowls.
Smith was so productive and consistent that on October 27, 2002, he broke Walter Payton’s all-time record for career rushing yards. Smith finished his NFL career with an amazing 18,355 yards rushing, 164 rushing touchdowns, and 4,409 carries, all NFL all-time records. In honor of his amazing career, the Cowboys enshrined Smith in their Ring of Honor on September 19, 2005.
Career Highlights, Awards, and Accolades:
- Rushed for 8,804 yards and 106 touchdowns in high school career.
- Holds Florida freshman rushing record with 1,341 yards.
- Ranks first all-time at Florida in rushing yards in a season: 1,599 yards.
- Ranks first all-time at Florida in career rushing touchdowns: 36.
- Ranks first all-time at Florida in career 100-yard rushing games: 23.
- Holds record at Florida for most rushing yards in a game: 316 yards, against New Mexico in 1989.
- Earned First Team All-American honors while at Florida in 1989.
- Named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1990.
- Won four NFL rushing titles: 1991-93, 1995.
- Only player in NFL history with 11 straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
- Only player in NFL history with five straight 1,400-yard rushing seasons.
- Ranks first all-time in NFL history with 18,355 career rushing yards.
- Ranks first all-time in NFL history with 164 career rushing touchdowns.
- Ranks first all-time in NFL history with 4,409 career rushing attempts (carries).
- Ranks second all-time in NFL history with 175 total touchdowns.
- One of only four players in NFL history to amass 21,000 or more career yards.
- One of only two non-kickers in NFL history to score 1,000 career points.
- Holds multiple NFL postseason rushing records.
- Eight-time Pro Bowler: 1990-95, 1998, and 1999.
- Named NFL MVP in 2003.
- Won three Super Bowl titles: 1992-93, 1995.
- Named MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII.