Jake Smith got a shot at professional football with the Cincinnati Bengals after graduating from the University of Louisville in 2015. Fun experience but it didn’t work out and he’s back in town, having readjusted his focus.
The native of Jacksonville, Alabama has re-enrolled at UofL and is pursuing a career in the legal profession. He’s splitting his time between classes at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law and counseling student athletes at the new Thornton’s Center for Academic Excellence.
Jake was a four-year starter on UofL’s offensive line, moving from center to offensive guard during his senior year. He was also a member of the ACC’s all-academic team.
Smith spent a summer with the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL pre-season after graduation. He didn’t make the squad but the Bengals asked him to stay in shape in case a roster player became injured. Jake decided he wanted to move on with his life.
“The time I spent with the Cincinnati Bengals was a great experience,” he said. “Being with the professional players I watched from the stands and on television was a dream come true. I was proud to say I did it.”
He was somewhat disappointed, of course, but recognized that few student athletes get a chance to play football with a major college football program and even fewer ever don a professional football uniform.
Smith said without hesitation the most exciting game at UofL was the opening home game against the University of Miami in 2014. A sellout crowd of 55,438 fans was on hand and the Card March for Coach Bobby Petrino’s first game back at Louisville was a mob scene. UofL won that game, 31-13.
“Running out of the tunnel before a home game, with all the fireworks, the smoke, the fans, and the blaring music was an amazing experience,” he said. “PJCS is a great place to play.”
Jake will have his hands full pursuing a law degree and helping tutor other students for the next couple of years. But he intends to enjoy every minute of his time back at UofL. “I’m really looking forward to working with student athletes in the new academic center,” he said.