HomeNewsUSJ alum Smith tries to become 4th Jacksonian to win Super Bowl

USJ alum Smith tries to become 4th Jacksonian to win Super Bowl

Mickey Marley was the head football coach at University School of Jackson for 27 years. For the past seven years, he’s worked in the Trenton Special Schools District.

As the in-school suspension coordinator for Rosenwald Middle School, he has a resource not many others have in reaching a troubled preteen in the northern part of Gibson County.

“I can tell them, ‘Man, I know a guy who plays in the NFL. I know a guy that plays for the Kansas City Chiefs,’” Marley said. “’And I can pull him up on Facetime right now and let him talk to you about what you need to do to put yourself on a path to success that keeps you out of in-school suspension.’”

Marley then dials the number of Trey Smith. It’s possible if Marley were to Facetime Smith next week to talk to another student, he can add to Smith’s resume.

“I know a Super Bowl champion.”

Smith and the Chiefs will play in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

When he plays, his longtime mentor, Artis Hicks, will be watching with pride in the athlete he’s worked with for nearly a decade.

“I remember the first time working with him,” Hicks said. “I treated him like I treat any other athlete who comes to me asking for help.

“I put them through a grueling workout that has little – mostly nothing – to do with football. We’ll run five or six miles and then do some lifting or agility drills after that. Because I want to see from the beginning how bad do they really want this.”

Hicks had no doubt from the first time working with Smith.

“I wore him out, and he kept finishing drills and doing the work,” Hicks said. “Then he sent me a text the next day: ‘Thank you sir. When can we work out again?’

“That told me this kid loves the game, loves to work to get better and will go as far as he wants to in life – whether or not that involved football.”

Smith has been able to do things with football not many have been able to do.

As the top-rated high school recruit in the country in 2016, Smith had notable college coaches Nick Saban (Alabama), Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M), Dabo Swinney (Clemson), Butch Jones (Tennessee) and many others trying to get him to come to their program.

The named coaches were at the schools who were in his top six choices of school, and they frequented USJ’s campus in North Jackson in the days leading up to his commitment announcement in December of 2016.

“He had Saban, Meyer, all of them sitting in their cars in the parking lot figuring out which order they came in to talk to him,” Hicks said.

Ultimately, he chose Tennessee.

And after he left USJ, Smith stayed in touch with both Marley and Hicks on a regular basis as both said they communicate with him via text between one and three times a week.

“I find out how he’s feeling before the game, how he’s recovering after a game a day or two later and we’ll go over how he did,” Hicks said. “I’ll ask him how he felt he did, and I’ll go back and watch his film every game and grade him.

“Then we’ll go over what he could’ve done better.”

Marley, who’s had a number of players go on and play college football, said he doesn’t get that extensive in his conversations with Smith.

“I stay in touch and keep up with him and will joke around with him,” Marley said. “ I tell him all the time he’s got a head the size of a country ham, and he’s big enough he can eat a country ham that big by himself.”

After four years in college football and nearly two complete seasons in the NFL, both Marley and Hicks said the Trey Smith fans see on television in interviews and press conferences is the same guy that Trey Smith is in daily life.

“When we first started working, I was 37 or 38 years old, and he was calling me ‘sir’ and I had to tell him to stop that because I’m not old enough to be a ‘sir,’” Hicks said laughing. “But that’s just who he is. That’s how he and his sister, Ashley, were raised.

“Their parents, Henry and Dorsetta, did a great job raising two kids that have grown into young adults that are respectful and respectable.”

When Smith was in town last summer to speak at a church event for high school football teams at The Church at Sugar Creek in Humboldt, Marley also spoke that night ahead of Smith. He repeated this week one key phrase he said that night.

“My grandsons are 16, 14 and 10 years old, and if they can grow up to be the type of guy Trey is, I will be very happy about that,” Marley said. “Because as good of a football player is, he’s a much much better person.”

Hicks has a reason to pull for either team on Sunday. He actually played for the Eagles when they won the NFC Championship and played against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, which the Patriots won.

But he has more reason to cheer for the Chiefs. Not only because of his relationship with Smith, but also head coach Andy Reid and a lot of his coaching staff were his coaches in Philadelphia.

“I’m sure if I’d just played for one franchise in my career, I’d be loyal to that, but I played for five teams,” Hicks said. “And I love Coach Reid and everyone on that staff that I know are great leaders and coaches.

“Trey and I have a lot of similarities. We both lost a parent at a young age – I lost my dad and he lost his mom. We both were starting on the line as freshmen in college. Both made it to the NFL. And playing for Coach Reid is another similarity.”

When asked what fans should know about Smith that most don’t know about him, Marley and Hicks had similar answers.

“He’s just a great young man that deserves to leave with a Super Bowl championship,” Marley said. “He was raised by a great family, and as fierce of a competitor as he is on the field, he’s a great guy off it.”

Hicks would like to see another Super Bowl champion come home to Jackson.

“Going down the list of guys from Jackson that have made it to the league – Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones, Sylvester Hicks, Trey Teague, Jabari Greer, Al Wilson, myself and now Trey.

“Three of those guys have Super Bowl rings – Too Tall, Teague and Jabari. I hope the Chiefs win because I want to see Trey win. But a fourth player with a ring would give us more players with rings than without them. And that would be good for Jackson.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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