Chris Smith, a defensive end who spent eight seasons in the NFL, has died at age of 31.
His cause of death has not been released at this time.
Smith was a standout defensive end for the squad and a 2010 graduate of West Rowan High School. After graduating from high school, he received a recruiting offer to play for the University of Arkansas. He assisted the West Rowan Falcons in winning the 2009 3A State Championship.
Smith started games for the Razorbacks all four years of his college career, and in his senior year in 2013, he was named to the second team of the Southeastern Conference.
Smith was then selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Smith stayed with the Jaguars for three seasons, appearing in 19 games and making 4.5 sacks.
In 2017, Smith signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and appeared in all 16 games, making three sacks.
Smith also spent time with the Cleveland Browns, Las Vegas Raiders, and Houston Texans from 2018 to 2021. He signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2020 but only appeared on the practice squad.
Smith talked to WCNC Charlotte during his brief time with the Panthers and commented on going back to the neighborhood where he was up. Smith somberly discussed his efforts to improve danger light safety after his girlfriend and child’s mother, Petara Cordero, perished in September 2011 after being hit by a car.
After the 2021 season, Smith’s career in the NFL came to an end, but he wasn’t quite done with football. Smith joined the XFL’s Seattle Sea Dragons for the 2023 season and played defense in five games.
“Chris was a better person than he was player! The impact he had on those around him will be remembered forever,” West Rowan wrote on Twitter.
The cause of death was not provided.