Brandon-Johnson Smith ’17 has played football his whole life. He is passionate about the sport and this drive has led to his talent being noticed by a Pro German football league. Smith speaks about his football career as well as his future and how football will remain in his blood.
Q: Tell me about your football career?
A: My family has a long history in sports. My father played football at Muskegon Heights and both of my uncles, Patrick and Ira, played football as well. Patrick started at Muskegon Catholic Central where he finished his career at Western Michigan University and Ira started at Muskegon Heights where he continued his career at Western Michigan also. My mother was heavily into sports, she always watched football and basketball, mainly football. Her and my father decided to put me into youth football when I was 5 years old. I instantly fell in love with the sport. It was something I found fun because all of my friends played, whether we played on the same team or different teams. The first position that I ever played was running back. It wasn’t until I reached middle school that I found my love in playing defense because I was able to hit people without getting in trouble. It’s every athletes’ dream to continue pursuing their sport in college and hopefully going on to become a professional. During senior season, I didn’t have any offers until after the season ended, that’s when I first became aware of Kalamazoo College. Because of the number of people we had at certain positions, I was asked to change my position from safety to linebacker. I didn’t hesitate because I wanted to do whatever was best for the team and also allowed me to see playing time on the field. In my four years at K, I feel like I had a good career.
Q: Why do you love football?
A: I love football because it’s fun. As I became older, I found that football was more than just fun for me, it was a coping mechanism that I used on a daily basis. I grew up in a single parent household on the southside of Muskegon Heights. My mother and I experienced a lot of hardships, from our lights, gas, and water being shut off for numerous days, multiple times. I did not really have the access to television, the internet, or other necessities such as a washer and dryer, which I used at my grandparent’s house because my mother sacrificed a lot to make sure that she can provide me with whatever I needed or wanted. Football was my sanctuary that I used to free me from those problems. Whenever I worked out, practiced, or had a game, I found myself in a different place. My career almost came to end my freshmen year of college because I contemplated on quitting and moving back home in order to watch my mother. She had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure before the end of my senior year and was in very bad shape. She was also the only reason that I kept playing because that’s what she wanted me to do.
Q: What is the program/team you’ve been accepted to? Where is it?
A: The team that has offered me a contract is the Ingolstadt Dukes. The team is located in Germany.
Q: Are you planning on accepting the offer?
A: I am heavily leaning towards accepting the contract because it would be a wonderful experience living in Germany since I didn’t get the chance to do study abroad at K.
Q: How long does the offer last?
A: The contract is still on the table. I haven’t had much contact with the team in the past month because they are in season right now. When we talked, they were wanting me to come over as early as this summer.
Q: Any special shout-outs or thank-you’s to people who have helped you along the way?
A: I just want to thank Coach Zorbo and all of the coaches here at Kalamazoo College for keeping their promise in helping me obtain my degree and also for giving me change to play college football and hopefully professionally. I want to thank all of my current and previous brothers (teammates), closest friends here at K, professors, and my friends and family back home in Muskegon. I want to thank my father, stepmother, little brother, my grandpa and grandma for making almost every game no matter if it was home or away. Lastly, I want to thank my mother for always believing in me and being my number one fan through all of the ups and downs.