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Photo by Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M Football

Ainias Smith's leadership will endure despite season-ending injury

September 28, 2022

If Ainias Smith never catches another pass for Texas A&M, the last catch was a fitting encapsulation of his career.

The Aggies faced second-and-30 at the Arkansas 47-yard line.

Smith caught Max Johnson’s pass five yards downfield. He weaved through the secondary. He ran through an attempted tackle. He fought through another. He gained 32 yards and picked up the first down.

How often are 30 yards needed for a first down? How often is it converted? How often does a three-star prospect turn into a bona fide star?

It happens, especially at A&M. Johnny Manziel was a three-star prospect. Mike Evans was, too. So were Damontre Moore, Deshazor Everett and Erik McCoy.

Smith belongs on that roster of A&M three-stars that became bona fide stars in the Southeastern Conference.

But Smith is now a fallen star.

Later in that Arkansas game, he suffered a leg injury that will end his season and most likely his A&M career.

It doesn’t have to end. Smith actually could possibly play two more seasons for the Aggies. The sophomore season in 2020 — the season of the pandemic — doesn’t count against his eligibility. Also, A&M has only played four games this season, so technically, Smith could take a redshirt year.

“He’s a unique player, a unique competitor, and I love him to death. It’s just an unfortunate situation.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

Aggies could hope Smith returns for the 2023 season. He could probably get a lucrative NIL deal with a restaurant or hotel inviting guests to “Come back just like Ainias did!”

Don’t count on it. The NFL would seem to be in Smith’s future. Why wouldn’t he pursue that dream?

Assume we’ve seen the last of Smith in an A&M uniform. Celebrate the touchdowns he scored and the yards he gained.

Try not to think about what A&M has lost because it is significant.

Replacing Smith’s on-field production will be difficult. Replacing the intangibles he brings to this A&M team will be even tougher.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher was asked what about Smith would be hardest to replace.

“I think diversity, leadership and experience,” Fisher said. “You go through all three of those things, but he’ll be around to help those guys and mentor those guys. That’s the best he can do as far as that goes. He’ll be right there with them. I know that.”

Smith’s teammates understand what a great loss they’ve been dealt.

“We may not be able to fill the same role as Ainias,” tight end Max Wright said. “We use him in so many different ways. I mean, the kid is versatile out of his mind, but there are definitely young guys who are ready to step up and make this step to really help out this team over the next few weeks.”

The most notable of those “young guys” is freshman receiver, Evan Stewart. Suddenly, he figures to be Johnson’s primary target. He’ll also be the top priority of opposing defensive backs.

Maybe freshman Chris Marshall will take advantage of the opportunity and emerge. Maybe Moose Muhammad will overcome mistakes made in the Arkansas game and prove himself.

Maybe Chase Lane gets a second chance. Maybe Jalen Preston does, too. Maybe Noah Thomas gets a chance.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Smith’s heroics vs. the Crimson Tide in 2021 led to one of the biggest victories in Texas A&M history.

Also, look for freshman tight end Donovan Green to become more involved in the passing game. He showed what he’s capable of with three catches for 50 yards against Arkansas.

But replacing numbers doesn’t necessarily replace Smith.

He’s the heart and soul of the offense, maybe even the entire team.

“He’s a unique player, a unique competitor, and I love him to death,” Fisher said. “It’s just an unfortunate situation.”

Fisher should love Smith. All Aggies should, too.

Over the last four years, Smith has demonstrated the traits and characteristics of a throw-back football player who truly cares more about winning than himself.

Smith is unselfish. Recall as a freshman in 2019 how he moved from receiver to running back for the Texas Bowl. He then rushed for 54 yards on just seven carries in a 24-21 win over Oklahoma State.

He opened the next season as the starting running back. Yet, he gladly moved to receiver to accommodate the emergence of Isaiah Spiller. He then went out and caught six passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns against Alabama.

He’s an enthusiastic leader. It was Smith who consoled Zach Calzada after Calzada inexplicably backed into the end zone and took a safety in a 26-22 loss to Mississippi State last season. Smith told Calzada to let it go because the quarterback would be needed the rest of the season.

Smith makes big plays. The week after the loss to Mississippi State, Smith caught two touchdown passes in a 41-38 upset of No. 1 Alabama.

Yes, he only had one catch last week, but that catch set up a Randy Bond field goal which provided the eventual winning points.

It was another example of Smith doing whatever he could to help A&M win.

That’s how it should be if it is his last catch as an Aggie.

Discussion from...

Ainias Smith's leadership will endure despite season-ending injury

6,137 Views | 11 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by infinity ag
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Doubt he will, but would love to see him come back for a Farewell Tour.
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Four year players of high talent are exceptionally rare these days, and we appreciate everything he did for us. Regardless of how his NFL career plays out, I am sure that he will have a successful life as a member of the Aggie family.
Cliff Booth
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"I think diversity, leadership and experience," Fisher said.

I bet Jimbo said "adversity", not "diversity". Makes more sense.

Paul Dirac
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He is deeply respected as a fellow Aggie.
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Love A. Smith! Took his talent, attitude, and mentality to College Station and never looked back, except at all those that didn't believe in him. I hope the best for him and a speedy and full recovery.

Gig'em Anias!!!
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One of my all time favorite Aggies
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Excellent write-up, Olin. You - we - cannot say enough good things about Ainias Smith. In addition to his far-ranging athletic ability, he just has this 6th sense about him, a situational awareness, that is immeasurable. Whenever the Aggies need a spectacular play in the middle of a game, chances are it's Ainias Smith making that play. He just has this unselfish instinct about him.

Whatever lies ahead in his future, I wish only the very best. I would obviously tickled if he decided to return to Aggieland. But if not, I am well satisfied with what he has done here already.

Gig'em, Ainias!
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Diversity meaning djverse, variety - Ainias Smith has been a high achiever in a variety of roles.
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My fav Ag on this team! Wish Sub 0 a full, speedy recovery and the very best in life!
infinity ag
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I'm bummed.
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