Not only is sophomore offensive lineman Trey Smith a leader for the Vols on the gridiron, but the Jackson, Tennessee native is an emotional leader as well. He’s the heartbeat of Tennessee’s team.
That’s why when it was announced blood clots had returned in his lungs last Thursday, his teammates were heartbroken.
“That really hurt my heart a little bit,” senior defensive lineman Paul Bain said on Monday. “When I heard the news, first thing I did was I prayed. I prayed for him, I prayed for his family. Second thing I did, I immediately called him, let him know I loved him, let him know he’s in my prayers, and I pray every day for him.
“I pray every day because hearing things like that really gets to me because I know how passionate he is. Trey and I have a really close bond, and he knows how passionate I am.”
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an athlete on Tennessee’s campus who has been through more than Smith.
In 2015, at the age of 51, Smith’s mother, Dorsetta, passed away with congestive heart failure.
Back in February, the Freshman All-American was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. He spent months with doctors, Smith told Chris Low of ESPN, coming up with a plan to treat his condition with a six month course of anticoagulants (blood-thinning medication) followed by baby aspirin.
The plan worked, as Smith was cleared by doctors on July 31st to play this season. He was held out of contact drills for most of fall camp, but by the time the season-opener against West Virginia rolled around, Smith was back in action for the Vols.
Starting at left tackle, Smith played in all seven games for Tennessee this season leading up to the South Carolina game.
“The most important thing is for Trey to be able to get healthy,” Pruitt said in a press release. “He has been an outstanding student-athlete during my time here on and off the field. Our sole focus for Trey is on his recovery. We are thankful that our medical staff discovered this and is getting him the proper treatment.”
According to UT, Smith will continue to receive care under the guidance of the University of Tennessee team physicians and he is expected to make a full recovery.
“Trey Smith is dear to all of us,” Tennessee wide receiver Marquez Callaway said. “I know that hurts his heart, but I know he’s always going to be there for us, and he wants the best for us. So all we can do is pray for him.”
The news hit senior defensive end Kyle Phillips hard when he found out. Phillips is using the news to serve as a reminder for how blessed he is to be able to play football.
“Trey has been so positive about the whole situation,” Phillips stated. “A guy that’s such a great player, a highly-rated recruit, a great player in college and a guy that is so unselfish and really enjoys this team and loves the guys on this team. It’s really been a blessing to see how well he’s been taking it.”
With Smith’s message to his teammates being to just go out there and don’t quit, his teammates have stepped up and been a shoulder to lean on during trying times.
“I definitely talked to him,” Phillips said. “I told him to keep his head up and he said, ‘you know it’s alright man, God always has a plan.’ Like I said, when you have a guy like that, that’s so positive about the situation, it makes you feel better.”
“I’m still praying for him every day I take the field,” Bain added. “I hope he gets better, and I know he’ll get better. I know his heart and I know his passion, and I know he’ll come back stronger. I know he will.”