Tommy Smith has his hands full.
Smith is a 32-year-old walk-on tight end for the Vanderbilt soccer team, active United States Navy officer, master’s student, husband and father of two.
The Connecticut-born and former Notre Dame player has not seen the field at either of Vanderbilt’s two games this season, but is excited to conclude his final year of NCAA eligibility in Nashville.
The fifth-year senior, as mentioned on Vanderbilt’s roster, studies at the university’s Owen Graduate School of Management as a civilian postgraduate program.
Here are five things you should know about Tommy Smith.
Tommy Smith facts
- First and last name: Thomas Smith
- Back number: 93
- Position: Tight ending
- Class: Fifth year senior
- Age: 32
- Height: 6 feet, 1 inch
- Weight: 226 pounds
- Residence: South Windsor, Connecticut
- Secondary school: Eastern Catholic
Tommy Smith had NCAA eligibility left after Navy tours
How does a 32-year-old end up on a college soccer team?
Tommy Smith said he had one year left to qualify for the NCAA after his two years playing football at Notre Dame as a walk-on.
“I knew I still had some playing opportunities and a way to play as far as the NCAA was concerned,” Smith said. “I reached out to a good friend of mine, Nick Lezynski, who I played with at Notre Dame and is an analyst on Notre Dame’s staff. Coach (Clark) Lea’s staff. I felt like I was up to the task and knew how to take care of myself and become a smarter player. I still had something to give and after some conversations with people they gave me that opportunity.”
Tommy Smith is not the oldest college football player
According to oldest.org, a website that lists the oldest things that exist on Earth, Alan Moore of Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, is the oldest college football player ever, at 61 years old in 2011.
Of the seven oldest college football players on the list, number 7 is 32-year-old James Stefanou who played at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2019.
The list was last updated in June 2019.
Tommy Smith was stationed in the Middle East, plans to serve again
At Notre Dame, Tommy Smith served with the university’s Naval ROTC program. He went to work full-time for the Navy ROTC after playing football at Notre Dame for two years. He then attended a diving school in Panama City and trained for a year at Eglin Air Force Base to become an Explosive Ordnance Disposable Officer.
Smith was stationed on three Middle East tours.
Smith said he plans to complete the 2021 football season at Vanderbilt, complete his MBA program next year, and then serve again. Smith was recently promoted to lieutenant commander.
Tommy Smith has wife, 2 children
Tommy Smith met his wife, Allison, who also serves in the Navy while stationed in the Middle East.
Smith said Allison takes care of their two children, a son and a daughter, while he is in school and soccer training.
Tommy Smith hasn’t seen any game time yet, but is still excited about the season
Tommy Smith did not appear in Vanderbilt’s season opener against East Tennessee State and did not travel with the team to play Colorado State.
Despite not seeing any game time, Smith said he is excited about the team and to be a part of it.
“I see a lot of the changes and the culture that Coach Lea is bringing around here and it’s very reminiscent of when Coach (Brian Kelly) came to Notre Dame and instilled that culture there,” Smith said. “I’ve told the guys here that and I’m excited for them. I remember what that was like at Notre Dame and it was amazing. Selfish, I’m excited to experience that with Coach Lea for a year and I’m excited for the guys to experience that in the future.”
Joe Spears contributed to this report.
Daniella Medina is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.
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