WINSTON-SALEM — When Kameron Smith enrolled at Winston-Salem State three years ago, he was looking for a little playing time. Instead, hes rewriting the Rams record book.
The Garner High graduate has guided the Rams (10-0) to 29 wins in his 32 starts and on Saturday will attempt to lead WSSU to its second consecutive CIAA championship at 1 p.m. at Durham County Stadium against Elizabeth City State.
After throwing for a school-record 2,706 yards and 33 touchdowns last season, Smith bested both his TD record (37) and passing record (2,710). He has had only nine passes intercepted.
Hes like a coach on the football field, said Rams coach Connell Maynor, whose team advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals before losing to Wichita State in 2011. He understands the defensive coverages, he understands the plays to call to beat the coverages, and he knows what the weaknesses and holes in those defenses are.
It took him a couple of years to learn that in our system, but hes learned that and hes playing excellent football for us. Hes accomplished a tremendous amount in the short time here. I hate to see him go.
The No. 2-ranked Rams (10-0, 7-0) just completed their second consecutive undefeated conference season. The defending black college national champions havent lost to a CIAA team since the last regular season game in 2010 against Shaw. That year was their first season back in the conference after the universitys failed attempt to reclassify to Division I status.
Smith, the CIAA offensive player of the year, said that Shaw loss was a game-changer for everyone.
It was very hard. Anytime you lose is hard, but that was very hard because that was a big game and it came down to a couple of plays that changed the game and just mental stuff, he said. I was young and inexperienced then, just little stuff that could have been prevented. Those are the things you learn from and try to avoid in future games.
Smith passed for 1,898 yards and rushed for 571 yards while leading Garner to a 12-1 record in 2007 and passed for 747 yards as a junior when Garner was 13-2.
I could kick myself in the rear that I didnt use him in more ways, Garner coach Nelson Smith said. He is a great young man. Im happy for him and what hes accomplished.
After Garner, Smith went to the U.S. Naval Academy. But Smith left after his first year and committed to N.C. Central. He had a change of heart after visiting Winstons campus. The Rams move back to Division II did not sway his decision.
I knew they had a losing program before I got here and I knew they were bringing in new coaches, but I knew that if somebody would just give me a chance to let me showcase my talents, I knew the team I was playing for could win, he said.
The Rams are averaging 489 yards of offense, sixth-best in Division II. They have scored 60 or more points twice and 50 or more three times. Smith threw a record seven touchdowns on Oct. 20 against Livingstone, then backed that up with six touchdowns a week later at Shaw.
Weve just been jelling and we know what our goals are, and weve been working hard to achieve those goals, offensive lineman Chris Bearden told The Winston-Salem Journal. The key is it starts with Kam. When we can get Kam some time, its over.
Smith said Saturday is just the beginning for the Rams. They are looking to go beyond the semifinals to try to bring home the schools first football national title.
I want that national championship. It would be great for our program to compete for the big one. Thats what our goal is set for, he said. Thats honestly what I want.