The first couple of weeks of the college football season are typically full of blowout games resulting from lopsided matchups.
One of last Saturday’s most inspiring highlights happened in a game that wasn’t close between a big-name Big Ten team and one from the bottom half of the MAC.
Michigan State was beating Bowling Green 28-3 in the third quarter when Spartans junior cornerback Tyson Smith intercepted a pass by Falcons quarterback James Morgan and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown. It was the knockout blow in State’s 35-10 victory.
Smith didn’t make a particularly amazing catch, and he didn’t have to juke or run anybody over on his way to the end zone.
So what was so special about this pick-six?
It’s that Smith did it during his first official football game field since he suffered a stroke last November.
Two days after Michigan State’s 2016 season ended with a loss at Penn State, Smith was having a severe headache. An MRI revealed that he had suffered a stroke. Memory loss and a lack of energy followed. According to an article in Michigan Live, Smith, a psychology major, believed there was a 70 percent chance he would never play football again.
Smith was eventually cleared by doctors to resume his career and rejoined the Spartans in July.
A part-time starter as a sophomore last season, Smith didn’t start against Bowling Green. He didn’t make any tackles or pass breakups, but his pick-six was replayed on highlight shows throughout the weekend. It was also his first interception and first touchdown since arriving at Michigan State.
“The feeling when I just stepped on the field was more than football, it was a blessing to see that I’m still me,” Smith was quoted by Michigan Live. “I felt normal, I didn’t know for sure if I was normal, but it’s just a blessing.”