Jason Smith never was a Dallas Cowboy. He became a successful rodeo cowboy instead.
Such is the strange and diverse trajectory of the former W.T. White football standout. While injuries cut short his promising career as a football player, his career as an entrepreneur, rancher, roper, and father is growing stronger by the day.
“My whole path and journey in life is hard to explain,” Smith said. “You’d have to see it to believe it.”
After starring as an offensive lineman at W.T. White and Baylor University, Smith was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the second overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft — behind only ex-Highland Park quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Five years, three teams, and several concussions later, Smith was done with football. Yet like all good athletes do, he had a backup plan. And it started with the entrepreneurial instincts he developed while growing up in Dallas.
As a product of a working-class family, he developed his work ethic while mowing lawns as a teenager. Meanwhile, one of Smith’s neighbors was a truck driver who became a mentor.
“He was always working on his truck, and I would go back and help him,” Smith said.
When Smith later received a full athletic scholarship to Baylor, he still took out a student loan to purchase an 18-wheeler with a trailer. He leased it out and profited about $1,000 a month. After he turned pro, Smith paid off the loan and sold the truck.
“When I was playing football, I kind of forgot about that,” said Smith, who played his last game for the New York Jets in 2012. “I wound up meeting the right people and starting my own company.”
“It allowed me to be a person and not just a product. Team roping is awesome.”Jason Smith
Smith launched the oilfield trucking company Big Boy Ranch Transportation in 2015 near his ranch in Fairfield. He started with a fleet of seven trucks and grew quickly from there.
Smith, 34, also remains active on the rodeo circuit as a horse trainer and competitor in team roping. That was part of his upbringing, too, courtesy of some family connections and a Terrell rancher who taught him horsemanship.
In high school and college, he spent much of his non-football time around horses. Then his competitive nature took over. He wound up taking fifth place in 2014 at the World Series of Roping in Las Vegas.
“When you get a chance to go do something different, that’s what roping allowed me to do,” said Smith, who now operates rodeo events in an arena on his property. “It allowed me to be a person and not just a product. Team roping is awesome.”
He’s not roping as much these days, preferring to spend time at home with his wife, Dacie, and their two young children. He’s also preparing to launch another business venture selling and manufacturing laundry detergent.
Smith admits he doesn’t spend much time around football anymore, although he still watches an occasional game on the weekends.
“When you watch the game from an athlete’s perspective, you become a critic. I’ve learned to watch it more and enjoy it,” he said. “Football was great to me. I still like the game, but now I spend more time playing with my kids and re-evaluating my life.”
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