LAURINBURG — Scotland High School senior Khalil Smith never thought he would have the opportunity to be a college athlete because of his height.
Khalil stands just 5-foot 6-inches tall and ever since he started playing parks and recreation football he was always the smallest player on the field.
His stature didn’t stop Shaw University from showing interest in Khalil and on Thursday he signed to play with the Bears.
“I didn’t think I would play college ball because I was smaller than everyone else,” he said. “I wanted to be away from home and pursue my dreams of playing football.”
Shaw University is a founding member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II’s Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). Other members of the CIAA are Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Livingston College, Chowan University and Virginia Union University.
The Bears finished the 2017 season 3-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play. The program is under the direction of third-year head coach Adrian Jones.
Shaw is one of 11 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in North Carolina, and is located in Raleigh about two hours north of Laurinburg.
Khalil plans to study sports medicine and wants to pursue a career as an athletic trainer. He did admit being a college athlete and student is going to be challenge for him, but he’s confident he’ll be able to balance the two.
“”I’m kinda nervous because it’s a new atmosphere, new people that I’ll have to get used to,” he said. “The campus is really quite, I thought it was going to be a party school but it’s not which is good because I’m not interested in that. I think I’ll play multiple positions but I want to play wide receiver.”
Khalil was originally utilized as a running back in the Scots offense, but when that position got too crowded because of his speed he was moved to wide receiver this season.
Khalil had 12 receptions for 240 yards with six touchdowns to lead the Scots receiving corps. He also tallied 17 carries for 111 yards and four touchdowns.
Fighting Scots head coach Richard Bailey is confident Shaw will better utilize Khalil in their offense.
“He’s a dynamic player for us and made big plays for us,” said Bailey. “He’ll be a good wide receiver in the college game and will be better utilized than I did. I feel like some of his best football is ahead of him. He was under utilized in our offense, which was no fault of his. He’s diminutive in size but big in heart and that’s going to carry him a long way. He has really grown up as a young man and I’m proud of him. The fact he’s going to get the opportunity to play college football is a blessing.”
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]