The pageantry of National Signing Day and the Early Signing Period can be a little much for some people. It’s awesome to see these players have so much control over their futures and make a big show of it all, but every year, fans get angry at kids — which they should never do, by the way — and parents can be a little too influential their child’s college decision, especially if that parent’s alma mater is an option.
Emmit Smith didn’t want to be this kind of parent. The Hall of Fame running back and Florida Gators legend sat next to his son, E.J. Smith, on Wednesday and smiled proudly as he committed to Stanford. Following E.J.’s decision, Emmit was asked about his son not picking his alma mater and how much influence he had in the decision. Emmit responded with as perfect of an answer as a famous dad can give.
"At the end of the day, my son has his own journey. And it is his journey, not my journey."
– Emmitt Smith after his son, EJ, committed to Stanford pic.twitter.com/50gEfkyB4R
— ESPN (@espn) December 18, 2019
“I can wear this hat, he doesn’t have to wear this hat,” Smith said. “His daddy went here, that doesn’t mean my son has to go there. At the end of the day my son has his own journey and it is his journey, not my journey, and for him to do the thing that is best for him is what we teach all of our children. To find what is best for you and go make it happen for yourself, and I’m proud of him for standing up and being the man that he is and the man he will continue to become.
“I’m a Gator,” Smith continued. “He’s still a Gator cause he’s in my family. And my wife’s a Gator cause she’s in our family. So we’re still a family of Gators, but we support not only E.J., we support Skyler, we support Jasmine, we support Reagan and Elijah. All our children, no matter where they go. We’re gonna be parents first, and then we can fall in where our kids fall in second.”
This moment isn’t about Emmit Smith, it isn’t about Florida, and it’s not even about Stanford. This is a moment for E.J. to make a life-changing decision on where he wants to play college football, which his dad will endorse no matter what. Amid how gross college sports can feel sometimes, this wholesome moment between Emmit and E.J. is part of why it can be great.