By Lindsey Korsick / Colorado Springs Sky Sox | July 26, 2007 1:22 PM
One could say the Manning brothers put Todd Helton and Seth Smith out of the football business, but that isn't all bad for the Colorado Rockies organization.
It was during their college football careers that both Helton and Smith held the back-up quarterback position to the Manning brothers at Tennessee and Ole Miss, respectively. Since his days in Peyton Manning's shadow, Helton has already gone on to make his name in baseball history, but Smith, like Eli Manning, is just beginning his road in professional sports.
Smith split his time between the diamond and gridiron during college and said it was partly influenced by his football coach and the younger Manning's success that he made baseball his career.
"I was fortunate to have a great coach in David Cutcliffe, who allowed me to be on a football scholarship and play baseball. It was a great experience," Smith said. "In football, Eli Manning was there and I was with him his whole college career. With him being there it kind of put football on the back burner for me just because he was the starter. In my freshman year of baseball I had a good season and it became evident that that was my future."
With fate dealing Helton and Smith both baseball careers, Smith said it was soon after hearing he had been drafted by the Rockies that he made a connection with the Colorado first baseman.
"It's funny that Coach Cutcliffe was my head coach at Ole Miss and he was his (Todd Helton's) quarterback coach at Tennessee," Smith said. "We had that connection before I got drafted. Once the Rockies drafted me, Helton gave me some pointers about how to be successful. As I met him and got to know him, conversations always turn to football and the SEC. That's fun to have in common with one of the best baseball players around."
Like Helton, the Mississippi native has made the rounds through the Rockies organization playing for each of Colorado's minor league teams, and is just waiting to make his Major League debut. With the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Smith was awarded the Pacific Coast League Batter of the Week for July 2-8. During that week he knocked out three home runs, drove in nine runs and had a .923 slugging percentage.
From the stands, Smith stands out as a smooth swinging outfielder looking to break the Major League glass ceiling, but off the field he said his personality is open to anything.
"I'm a nerd. I read, relax, get some coffee and chill. I like golfing and a little Xbox," Smith said. "I'm an open book. What you see is what you get. That's how I live my life and these guys will tell you that. There really aren't any secrets. I let them know how I feel. We talk about current events all the time and I tell them how I feel."
Even though Smith is enjoying success at a game he loves, he said honestly football is still his passion. While he could pull a Deion Sanders and try the two-sport life, he said coaching his passion would be his choice career if baseball didn't work out.
"I would be a high school football coach," Smith said. "Football is my first love. I still enjoy it in the off-season and I am around it a lot. I would have to go back and get my degree, but if I wasn't playing baseball I would be coaching football."
With his family and home still in Mississippi, Smith said the pull back down to the south is strong. But, if he has to spend a part of his year away from his home, he said Colorado is a nice place to be. Even too nice maybe.
"It's way too nice here. The weather is way too nice. I need to get back to the 100 degree, 100 percent humidity," Smith said. "I do miss the south. I miss home because obviously my family is there. Baseball has been good to me. Getting to see the sights in Colorado is great."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.