McALESTER — For some, a lack of height is a disadvantage. And as a 5-foot-5 running back for the McAlester Buffaloes, senior Jarome Smith sometimes disappears behind the line of scrimmage.
But more often than not, that works in Smith’s favor. The speedy and quick-cutting Smith can turn just a moment of defensive hesitation into a big offensive play.
“People ask me, ‘Would you rather be taller or shorter?’” Smith said on Sept. 25. “I always say ‘Shorter,’ because I feel like if I cut the right way, they won’t be able to see me for a second.”
Smith has lived his whole life in McAlester, going through the McAlester Public Schools system every year but the fifth grade, when he went to Lakewood Christian School. He spent his Friday nights watching the Buffaloes at Hook Eales Stadium, idolizing the older players and playing ball outside the stadium,.
Children still play football outside of Hook Eales every Friday, but now it’s Smith they’re idolizing.
“Up there where the fence is (at Hook Eales), we used to play football on that hill every Friday night,” Smith said. “I think I got a lot of my juke moves from up there.
Smith’s football career began in the third grade. Though he started playing basketball as young as 6 years old, Smith said it took just a couple of competitive football games for him to make that his new sport of choice.
“Fourth grade, me and my friend Richaun (Know), we were always the top athletes growing up,” Smith said. “We had a game where we played against each other, and we matched each other touchdown for touchdown. I ended up scoring seven, and he ended up scoring six.”
Smith said he stuck with offensive positions in his first few years, switching between wide receiver, running back and quarterback. He became a linebacker in seventh grade at Puterbaugh Middle School, enjoying finally getting to hit someone instead of getting hit.