by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace
Growing up in Pontotoc, Brent Smith’s family members were University of Mississippi fans and alumni; but from the start, Brent chose maroon and white instead.
“I was just kind of a rogue Mississippi State guy,” he said.
When he would go on to play football at a collegiate level, for him, the decision was easy: Mississippi State University all the way. He started out playing defensive line for two years, then offensive line for his remaining two years at State. After college, he was drafted into the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, where he played for six years before heading to the New York Jets for two years, and one year with the Jacksonville Jaguars before retiring after the 2005 season.
A few years later, he and his now wife, Jimma, would meet. Jimma, also a State graduate, grew up in Tupelo, and her cousins were actually friends with Brent growing up, but their paths never crossed. They met through a mutual friend, and it was an instant connection. They started dating in December, and were married the next month in January. They now live in Pontotoc in the house Brent built after his retirement. In the plans, of course, a game room.
Upon entering the room above the garage adjacent to the Smiths’ house, there are a plethora of uniforms hanging up, plenty of maroon and white, aqua and orange, but also some purple and gold and a Tiger Eye. That’s because Cole, one of the couple’s combined six children, signed on to play for Louisiana State University. After a year in the bayou, Jimma said he transferred to MSU because he was homesick. They both said they leave the LSU stuff hanging up, because of the great opportunity the team and coach presented to their son; however, they laughed that tailgating and going to games became a lot easier.
“We do not miss a game,” Jimma said. “Home or away.”
When they’re not cheering on their Bulldogs and son, if it’s football season, odds are they’re in the game room. The couple hosts football parties regularly, from NCAA National Championships, Brent’s fantasy league, where he said they watch games and “do what guys do,” NFL games, and definitely the Super Bowl. They host upwards of 40 people for bigger games, and Jimma said they have to bring in extra tables for all the food, as the little kitchen nook’s counters can’t hold it all.