By J.C. Casarez
For Antoine “Shaky” Smithson, life in the NFL is just beginning. His journey to the professional level is something that began long before his days at the University of Utah, where he majored in Sociology.
The 24-year-old Smithson signed with the Green Bay Packers this year as an undrafted free agent. Smithson attended East Los Angeles College for his freshman and sophomore years before transferring. He spent the next two years at the University of Utah where he appeared in 23 games and led the nation in punt return yards at 19.1. He earned All-American honors from the Walter Camp.
The Baltimore, Maryland native credits his family and city pride as the motivating factors for his success. At the age of six years old, he was given the nickname Shaky by family members who were in awe of his moves on the football field and the basketball court.
Anyone who knows Smithson will say what a positive person he is. That positive attitude is something he learned from his grandmother, Quincy Ann Thornton, who died when he was 13 years old. “Big time,” said Smithson of the impact she played in his life. Smithson often receives thanks and praises from others he has inspired and motivated along the way, as was the case with a recent message he received on Facebook from a friend who was ready to give up football.
After speaking with Smithson, he decided to continue playing and is now doing better in the sport. The advice he offered his friend was an acronym. “Five letters, FINAO, failure is not an option,” said Smithson, who lives by the words he preaches. Smithson understands the challenges that student athletes face in community college. He recalls on his own experiences as he offers advice to those facing the same things.
“The struggle of a junior college athlete is having to make time for school and football so you can reach your goal. It was hard with time management, but just take pride at everything you do” said Smithson.
He remains humble on his view of life and the level of success he has achieved. He remains grounded and positive regardless of the changes he encounters. He keeps things in perspective no matter what happens next.
“I’m very blessed, but at the same time, I know my journey and I worked hard to get here. Now I have to continue to do what got me to this point and keep grinding. Hard work pays off but hard work doesn’t pay off just because you work hard. You have to also be in the right mind,” said Smithson.