Former Demon Deacon Alphonso Smith (’09), was a standout cornerback for Wake Forest football during his time on campus. He received first-team Freshman All-America honors from CollegeFootballNews.com, ESPN.com and Scout.com. As a junior, he tied for first in the nation with a school-record eight interceptions, was a first-team All-ACC selection and received second-team All-America honors from Walter Camp. As a senior, he tied for first in the nation in both interceptions and pass breakups, was a first-team All-ACC selection and a consensus first-team All-American. He was also named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. He continues to hold the ACC record for career interceptions (21).
When did you graduate from Wake Forest?
What was your major and minor?
I majored in History and minored in Sociology.
What does a being Demon Deacon mean to you?
Being a Demon Deacon is indescribable; you have to be one to truly know what it is like. Telling someone about the experience is just an eighth of the story.
Why are you still involved with Wake Forest Athletics?
Wake Forest Athletics provided me with the opportunity to become a better man. The evolution of Alphonso Smith Jr. the man was far greater than the evolution of Alphonso Smith Jr. the football player. Wake Forest afforded me that opportunity.
Why do you feel it is important to give back to Wake Forest?
Wake Forest provided me, a kid from the streets of Pahokee, Fla., an opportunity to achieve my dreams and aspirations. Wake Forest is an institution that provides opportunities and changes lives, but in order to provide those opportunities for future student-athletes, one must give back in some capacity.
What is your current occupation?
I am currently the high school head coach for the Pahokee Blue Devils at my old high school. I teach history and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). AVID is a non-profit organization that aims to improve college readiness for all students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education.
What is your favorite memory at Wake Forest?
There are a ton of those! I have way too many to choose one, but since we do not have enough time or room to list them all, I’d have to say graduation day! Shaking Dr. Nathan O’Hatch’s hand is my favorite moment because, given my circumstances growing up, I was not your typical Wake Forest kid or student-athlete. That day marked the greatest accomplishment of my life thus far!
What makes you most proud of Wake Forest?
Wake Forest is a university that stands firmly on the foundation of integrity, love, class and opportunity. That is why I bleed black and gold.
When I come back to Wake Forest I always…
Go to the football office and see “Big Daddy” Faircloth, Bonnie Rae, Jane Caldwell, Julie Griffin (before she retired on me), Dwight Lewis, Doug Bland, Athletic Director Ron Wellman, “Compliance Lady” Kirsten Elleby, “Compliance Man” Todd Hairston and Dr. Beth Hopkins. Those were the people that truly believed in me during my time at Wake Forest. They were patient with me, showed me the light and allowed me to evolve, especially Jane Caldwell – she gave me the hardest time, but it was all out of love!
I was there when…
Chris Paul was selling out the coliseum, so we had to literally sneak our way in to see him play. Webb Simpson told us, on my freshman bus tour, that he was going to be a pro. Aaron Curry went from 190 to 240 lbs in a summer. Jim Grobe led our football team to the winningest period in Wake Forest history. The late Skip Prosser came to football practice and talked Dean Hood into naming our all-out blitz after him, because he was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. The “Skip Blitz” signal was shooting an air jumper.
Who is your favorite coach at Wake Forest, current or past?
My favorite coach while I was at Wake Forest is a tough question because there were so many great ones. Steed Lobotzke helped me understand why I needed to be a great guy, not just a great football player. Ray McCarthy recruited me and was like my father. Coach Grobe was my fail-safe; he helped me through so much as a person. Keith Henry challenged me every day. Brad Lambert was Mr. Humble Pie and served as a great example for our team. Jeff Mullen helped me believe in myself. Tom Elrod showed me strength and perseverance.
I believe it was Dean Hood, however, that made the greatest impact on me. He told me one day that he will not judge himself as a coach based on how many guys he coached that made it to the NFL, became All-Americans or were named All-ACC, but that he will judge himself 10 years from now on his players’ success as husbands, fathers, neighbors and men of the community. Dean Hood is my favorite coach of all time. I love that man!