Seth Smith eyes return to glory in emotional PRCC homecoming

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Pearl River Community College has been in search of a leader that can restore the football program to its former glory and as it turns out, one of its former players just so happens to be the man for the job.

This afternoon, Seth Smith was introduced as the next in line two decades after he first joined the PRCC family.

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“Like that old country song said, he’s just a common man with a common van. That’s me. I’m common. But I have coached a lot of great people. And I’ve coached uncommon kids, and that’s why I’m getting to do an uncommon thing.”

Signed as a quarterback out of Pearl River Central High School turned linebacker at Pearl River Community College, Seth Smith has always been a ‘Roll River Roll’ kinda guy. “I get a chance to come back. Hopefully I’ll be a lot better coach than I was a player. You get to come back and restore what once was done several times from back to Coach Holden and all the way to Coach Hatten. That’s why I’m here, to try to see if we can bring it back to where those guys had it.”

PRCC isn’t too far removed from its former glory, most recently winning an NJCAA championship in 2004. An emotional Coach Smith isn’t too far removed from his former glory as the all-time winningest football coach in the history of East Central High School. “We were there seven years. And I didn’t tackle anybody. I didn’t score a touchdown. They did it. They were just willing to listen and play hard and believe in their self and believe in a common goal. Because this is the ultimate team sport, and if everybody is not on the same page, you don’t win.”

But the Hornets did win more than anyone could have imagined, starting with their first-ever playoff win in 2015 and culminating with their first-ever 4A state title game appearance in 2017.

Now, it’s up to the former Wildcat to recreate that same Hurley magic in Poplarville. “It’ll be the same culture. That’s all I know. So again, that’s all I know. And if it don’t work, it’ll be on me. Because again, they’ve given me the keys to the car, we’ve just got to crank it and drive it.”

PRCC Athletic Director Jeff Long said, “To see a guy like that who pours his heart and soul into what he does and I think it echoes the way we feel about how we want our head coach interacting with players and recruiting players. We’re going to push them hard but we’re going to love them as well and I think he checked all the boxes.”

Quite the happy homecoming for Coach Smith, who now gets the chance to bring it all full circle by making his alma mater someone else’s alma mater. “The other thing that I love about this, years ago Coach Daniels gave me an opportunity to come here. And we get to do that same thing to a kid because there’s a bunch of kids out there who want to play here. And we will get to sit down and offer them that opportunity. So that again, that part of it is extremely humbling and extremely rewarding to know that you’ll have the chance to help somebody’s dream come true.”

Coach Smith says he’ll get to meet his returning players for the first time after Thanksgiving.

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A native of Pass Christian and a St. Stanislaus alum, Jeff Haeger comes to News 25 from right in our backyard. He most recently spent more than three years working as the sports reporter for WHLT-TV in Hattiesburg, where he provided extensive coverage of his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Jeff was a member of the Honors College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. He also wrote for USM's award-winning school newspaper, The Student Printz, where he won first place for Best Sports Story in 2013. Jeff loves to travel, and is excited to get back on the water to reunite with his family. In his spare time you can find Jeff spending time with his friends, and maybe even winning a fantasy football league. For sports stories contact Jeff at jhaeger@wxxv25.com.