UF’s Smith giving up football because of injury

Nick Smith walks up to the first fall practice for the University of Florida football team at the Sanders Practice Field on the UF campus on Aug. 3, 2018. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida linebacker Nick Smith has given up football due to a serious neck injury, the redshirt sophomore announced on Twitter on Tuesday night.

Smith, who played in the opener but not in any other games this past season, said on Twitter that he is dealing with a neck injury that could lead to paralysis if he continued to play football.

“By the grace of God, I’m still walking, talking and breathing on my on will and can promise that I WILL NOT LET FOOTBALL DEFINE WHO I AM AS A PERSON,” Smith wrote.

Smith will be allowed to remain on scholarship as a medical hardship. His scholarship will not count against UF’s overall total.

Smith, a three-star prospect from Orlando, missed his true freshman season in 2017 after undergoing knee surgery.

He is the third UF player in the past two years to give up football due to health concerns, joining wide receiver James Robinson and defensive back Randy Russell.

Robinson and Russell both were diagnosed with heart conditions after they arrived at UF as true freshmen. Both remain on scholarship and are attending classes at UF.


  1. Either we have had a run of bad luck — or we have a particularly robust medical program that is good at sniffing out these issues. I feel sorry for the kids though. Google and read the rest of this kid’s statement. He is apologizing to everyone from his brother to all the fans — the pressure to “make it” is very apparent.

    You have nothing to apologize for Mr. Smith. We all feel for you but take the opportunity that a UF education offers by the horns and run with it.

    • I think you are right about the medical staff, great job. Much better than going un diagnosed and having the poor kid die or be paralyzed due to his medical condition while practicing or playing. God forbid.

      • But think about this CO, by the time these guys arrived at UF, they had grown up playing HS football, MS football, and youth football. YEARS! They’ve had their conditions through that. Ticking time bombs. Both my kids play HS football, and the only physical they have to take to be admitted is the basic BP, pulse rate, and turn your head and cough. The latter administered by a female nurse practitioner at Dad’s insistence 😉

      • You think there’s room in a high school’s budget for a gigantic lawsuit when one of the high school athletes dies from something that should have been found during a thorough and complete pre-season physical? If a school’s going to have an athletic program then they damn well better have qualified medical personnel overseeing it.

        • Think long and hard about what you wrote. He is a sophomore meaning UF staff did not discover his condition his freshman year. UF has world class trainers and doctors and they didn’t see an issue for over a year. So you are either advocating for higher taxes or the abolishment of HS athletics. Which is it?

          • Probably because it was not a pre-existing condition in the first place, or if it was it was not at a level of significance so as to expect further deterioration. Nobody is probably at fault, I doubt there is a tort in any event — but you’re probably both right just the same.

          • It’s pretty obvious that I’m not talking about conditions that develop after arriving at UF. I’m talking about the players that arrive at UF with pre-existing health issues such as Robinson and Russell. Those problems do not develop overnight. They are problems that most likely would have been diagnosed with a decent physical while playing in high school.

          • The truth is, “defensive” medicine can in fact prove very expensive, particularly when done in a proactive mode to prevent possible tort liability in the future. Basically, you’re talking about imaging studies without physical exam findings to warrant them, so there is likewise an ethical issue as well. However, if the PE is overly basic as Gelco references, you’re probably not going to catch much beyond an inguinal hernia in that age group. Many high schools out here in Texas have their Sports Medicine consultant physicians as DOs, who can probably detect the majority of ortho problems by palpation, but many don’t have anything depending on budget within the district. But even a good PA or CNP can do physicals that are comprehensive enough. All in all, I think these are good questions…..all the elements of modern health care are definitely in play: (1) access to care, (2) quality of care, and (3) cost of care.

            One thing to remember tho — this is basically a healthy population, but you’re screening needs to be good enough to detect deviances.

  2. that 2017 class, although it has a few good players so far, seems to have way too many guys that arent on the roster anymore, be it health, credit card fraud, or playing time issues resulting in transfers. maybe its nothing, but these would be upperclassmen that could help out (directly or through position change) in some areas of need.