Chris Smith: 5 facts on the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football running back, kick returner

Erik Hall
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football team opened the 2020 season with a bang by defeating No. 23-ranked Iowa State by 17 points. 

UL kickoff returner Chris Smith played a key role in that win. 

After Iowa State scored to go up 7-0 with 4:28 left in the first half, Chris Smith responded with a 95-yard kickoff return. It tied the game 7-7 at 4:14 left in the first half, and Louisiana went on to win 31-14. It was one of many big kickoff returns for Smith in 2020. 

Here is some basic information about Chris Smith: 

  • Height: 5 feet, 9 inches
  • Weight: 194 pounds
  • Age: 21 years old
  • Birthdate: Aug. 8, 1999
  • Hometown: Louisville, Mississippi
  • High school:  Nanih Waiya Attendance Center in Louisville, Mississippi

Here are five more things to know about Chris Smith. 

Chris Smith named 2020 First-Team All-American 

Louisiana-Lafayette's Chris Smith celebrates after returning a kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Chris Smith was named the best kickoff returner in the country with a spot on the 2020 CBS Sports/247Sports All-America first team

Smith was the only player from the Sun Belt Conference to earn first-team All-American honors from CBS Sports and 247 Sports. 

During the 2020 season, Smith returned 23 kickoffs for 617 yards, and he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. 

Chris Smith returned a kickoff 100 yards vs. UAB football

UL's Chris Smith returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown against UAB at Legion Field on Friday night in Birmingham.

The UAB Blazers had just scored a touchdown to go ahead 13-3 with 34 seconds left in the first half. 

Chris Smith had the strongest response possible. 

He returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and crossed the goal line with 19 seconds left in the first half. It cut the UAB Blazers' lead to 13-10, and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns went on to win 24-20 on Oct. 23, 2020, in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Against UAB, Smith also had six carries for 22 yards, and he had four total kickoff returns for 160 kickoff return yards 

UL 24, UAB 20:5 things we learned from the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns win vs. UAB Blazers football

Chris Smith stats with UL Ragin' Cajuns football 

Sep 19, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns running back Chris Smith (21)  scores a touchdown against the Georgia State Panthers during the first half at Center parc Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Kickoff returns are Smith's most notable contributions to the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football team, but they are not his only role. 

During the 2020 football season, Smith as a redshirt sophomore had 62 carries for 359 yards and one touchdown. He also caught 16 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown. 

In 2019, Smith played 14 games, and he began his kickoff return proficiency with six returns for 147 yards. He also ran 32 times for 334 yards and four touchdowns. 

Smith played four games in his redshirt freshman season of 2018. His only stat in 2018 was a special teams tackle.

Chris Smith earned Mississippi Mr. Football 

Chris Smith earned the 2016 Class 1A Mississippi Mr. Football as a high school junior. Future LSU quarterback Myles Brennan won the 2016 Class 4A Mississippi Mr. Football that year. 

Smith led Nanih Waiya to a 13-2 record and a spot in the MHSAA state semifinals during the 2016 season. At running back, he carried the ball 112 times for 1,221 yards, and he finished 2016 with 2,277 all-purpose yards and 39 touchdowns. Playing cornerback, Smith made three interceptions and 35 tackles in 2016. 

He didn't defend his Mr. Football title in 2017, but he guided Nanih Waiya to the Class 1A state championship game where his team finished state runner-up at 15-1.

Chris Smith runs while playing for Nanih Waiya in Mississippi.

In 2017, Smith rushed for 1,172 yards and 23 touchdowns to go with 505 receiving yards and seven touchdown receptions, and he was named second-team all-state.

During his high school sophomore season in 2015, Smith rushed for 1,106 yards and 12 touchdowns; gained 166 receiving yards with one touchdown on nine receptions; and made eight interceptions with 23 tackles.

High school football:2016 MHSAA Class 1A football preview

Chris Smith won 2 high school baseball state titles

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Chris Smith (21) runs for a gain during an NCAA college football game against South Alabama in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Chris Smith helped Nanih Waiya win back-to-back Mississippi baseball state titles in 2017 and 2018. Smith was the starting left fielder on both state title teams. 

He also ran track and field at Nanih Waiya Attendance Center. As a high school junior, Smith won the 100 meters in a hand-timed 11.24 seconds (converted to 11.54 seconds) at the MHSAA Division Meet 5-1A. 

Three sports weren't enough as Smith played four seasons of boys basketball at Nanih Waiya. 

Here's more Chris Smith news: 

Chris Smith runs the ball as the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns take on Coastal Carolina at Cajun Field.  Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020.

Here is a link to the Chris Smith bio on the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football website. 

Erik Hall is the lead digital producer for sports with the USA Today Network. You can find him on Twitter @HallErik