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Car crash kills former Bobcat linebacker

Stephen Smith, 40, photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics

Stephen Smith, 40, photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics

Cade Andrews

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Former Texas State student-athlete Stephen Smith, 25, died Jan. 12 in a car crash east of Austin, the Texas State Athletic Department confirmed.

Smith graduated in December 2016 with a degree in economics. He was a linebacker for the Texas State football team from 2012-16. Smith was involved in a car crash on FM 153 near Winchester, located just outside of La Grange, according to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith grew up in Missouri City, Texas, before later attending Dulles High School in Sugar Land where he played football and ran track. He earned All-District 23-5A First-Team honors as a linebacker during his senior season, recorded 113 total tackles and was a regional qualifier for in the 4×400-meter relay for the track and field team. He was recruited to Texas State by former head coach Dennis Franchione.

According to teammates and coaches, Smith brought positive energy to the team. Football Operations Director Zack Lucas said Smith was always willing to go out of his way to help others and was a role model to incoming freshman.

“Stephen Smith was fully committed to this school the moment he came here,” Lucas said. “He was an unbelievable team guy who always wanted to make guys around him better. He represented Texas State as well as anyone.”

Lucas said Smith still attended football games past graduation and continued to support the team. Early in the 2018 season, Smith met with players to talk about transitioning from football to the business world and how college football intersects, part of former head coach Everett Withers’ life lessons series.

Former teammate and close friend Mike Orakpo said Smith went above and beyond for the people in his life.

“Stephen was always a great listener and never put himself before anyone,” Orakpo said. “Steve was the kind of person that if you needed a hand, he’ll cut his off and give it to you. That’s just the type of person he was.”

In the 2013 season, Smith recorded 16 tackles, including 13 unassisted tackles. In 2014, he played in eight games and contributed to a total of 35 tackles. He recorded a season-best of nine tackles against Idaho and Tulsa. Smith also added 26 tackles in the 2015 season along with a sack and a tackle for loss.

According to a press release sent out by Texas State athletics, Instead of accepting flowers for their loss, Smith’s family asked the public and funeral service attendees to donate to Shriners Hospital for Children or Champions Kids Camp.

“The family asks for consideration in donating to Shriners Hospital for Children or Champions Kids Camp, causes that were important to Stephen and their family,” the press release states.

He is survived by his parents, Dennis and Leslie Smith, brothers Christopher Stiglets and Matthew Smith, grandparents Gerald and Wendy Beaver, and grandfather Richard Pavlicek.

Stephen Smith runs onto the field with teammates.
Photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics.

Smith worked at financial services firm Raymond James following his graduation from Texas State. Smith’s memorial service was held Jan. 19. Many former Bobcat football players and coaches attended. At the end of the service, many of Smith’s friends and former teammates came together to sing the Bobcat fight song to honor his legacy.

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