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Trey Smith easy to root for

I’m happy.

I’m happy college football is officially here. I’m happy high school football is already here, and the NFL is nearly here. I just really like ball.

That’s why I’m happy for Trey Smith. Trey loves ball and I’m happy he’s back.

Over the last 18 months, Smith’s life has been a rollercoaster ride when it comes to living out his dream.‘Will he get to play?’ was the question last summer and again this summer. In-between, Smith had seven games of left tackle, where he was on-the-job learning, before his blood clots returned only to sideline him late last October.

But today, Trey Smith is back. For how long? We don’t know. But right now Smith is back and that’s good for Tennessee and it’s great for Trey Smith.

Don’t get me wrong, Trey Smith doesn’t need football to be successful. He’s a bright man whose drive will make him successful in whatever he chooses to do in life.

And for the record, if Smith were my son, I’m not sure I would let him play football again.

But Trey Smith and his family have not made this decision recklessly. The former freshman All-American has traveled to Massachusetts, Minnesota and other places to visit with specialists. Tennessee’s training staff has tested their weekly medical plan for him this fall.

But obviously, there are risks, and Trey and his family know that. Yet, they are comfortable with it and so he’s going to play football starting Saturday afternoon.

Some will wonder “Why play?” After all, at 29 years old, Andrew Luck, the former No. 1 overall pick, walked away from the game only last weekend.

But there’s a significance between those two men beyond the zeroes in their respective bank accounts. Luck has spent the last few years with his body beaten-up and battered by the game. The Colts’ now-retired quarterback has spent more hours in the training room than anywhere else. He lost his love for the game.

But Trey Smith’s body isn’t beaten-up. He isn’t hurt. He hasn’t been hurt. He hasn’t rehabbed anything. Physically, he’s as healthy as anyone on the team. He’s also one of the best linemen in the college football. Yet for all of Trey’s physical gifts, his greatest strength is simply his love for the game. And that’s why Smith wants to play.

I get that as much as anyone.

Trey Smith and I have very little in common. We do share the fact that we take or have taken blood thinners. We also share the fact that we’ve been told we are not allowed to do something — even though we know that we can. There are things I am not allowed to do because of my heart issues have left me on the thinners.

And it’s awful. It’s awful that there are some things your not allowed to do with your kids and friends. It’s awful that you’re physically strong enough and capable of doing an activity, but aren’t allowed to for prevention purposes.

I remember, after my first heart surgery, taking a sheet of paper with a list of things that I wondered if I could continue to do. All were things I had done the previous six months and felt still capable of doing. The doctor answered me patiently — some were yes and some were no. Each ‘no’ sucked to hear. Admittedly, it hurts, but more painfully, each ‘no’ is permanent.

So considering my personal experience, I’m pulling hard for Trey Smith. I’m praying this weekly plan works perfectly. I’m pulling for his success.

I’m pulling for him to overcome what many of us thought would be a permanent restriction from the activity he loves most.

I’m happy for Trey because his family and medical team have found a way for him to find happiness again on the football field, starting this Saturday.

I’m praying it’s for a long time, too.