Pat Dye’s Auburn football program did an “excellent job” of recruiting eventual Super Bowl XXVIII MVP and six-time All-Pro running back Emmitt Smith during the mid-1980s before the Pensacola native decided to commit to Galen Hall’s Florida Gators according to On3’s Matt Connolly.
“The Tigers did an excellent job of recruiting Smith and certainly had his attention,” Connolly prefaced before saying, “Smith considered following in the footsteps of Bo Jackson and playing for Pat Dye, before ultimately choosing to play for the Gators instead.”
As Smith revealed, the grass of what would eventually be named Pat Dye Field was something that was of interest to the Escambia star when mulling between Gainesville and the Plainsl not to mention the vision Dye had for him.
“When I was coming out, Bo Jackson had just won the Heisman a couple of years before that,” Smith prefaced before saying, “And Auburn and Pat Dye had committed to me, ‘Here’s the campaign. Here’s what we’re going to do to get you the Heisman. Because we want you to have the Heisman.'”
“Auburn took pride in running the football. They were on grass, so that was one motivating factor for me, as well, but Auburn would’ve been the school.”
Auburn football running back legacy could’ve been even more legendary
The history books will always look fondly on the Auburn football running back room’s lineage, but it’s crazy to think that Smith could’ve been another in a long line of legendary rushers for the Tigers had he chosen AU over Florida.
Stacy Danley gave Auburn plenty during the 1987-1989 seasons, aka the ones Smith would’ve been in orange and blue for. But Smith was a transcendent athlete who could’ve potentially put the team over the top during an era when they were regularly in New Year’s Six bowl games.