Smith Jr., 21, was backup QB for Eagles

Updated: August 8, 2004, 12:54 AM ET
Associated Press

CALVERT, Texas -- A University of North Texas quarterback was killed early Saturday morning after his vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with an 18-wheeler in central Texas.

Andrew Smith, a 21-year-old from Bay City who was expected to compete for starting quarterback this fall, was pronounced dead at the scene. The pre-dawn accident happened on Texas Highway 6, about five miles north of Calvert, which is 48 miles southeast of Waco.

"This brings everything back into perspective," UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal told the Denton Record-Chronicle for its Sunday editions. "The players are all kids and they are vulnerable. Regardless of what you can do on the field, nothing is promised. He will be missed."

A Texas Department of Public Safety accident report said it is not known why Smith's 2003 Ford pickup crossed into oncoming traffic.

The report said Smith was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the truck when it hit the tractor-trailer.

According to the report, the 18-wheeler's driver was treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Smith was in his third year at UNT, where he had started as quarterback 16 times, said Eric Capper, a spokesman with the university's athletic program. Smith had two years of eligibility left to play for UNT.

"He was a significant player, and was loved by his teammates," Capper told the Waco Tribune-Herald for its Sunday editions. "He was going to continue to be an important part of the team, and we will miss him."

Smith was an honorable mention all-state pick at Bay City, Texas, High as a senior when he led his team to the Class 4A Division I state title.

In 2001, Smith spent his first year at UNT as a redshirt. The next year, he began the season as a backup, but was thrust into the starting lineup when starter Scott Hall was injured in UNT's season-opener.

Smith led the Mean Green to an 8-4 record as starting quarterback, including a 24-19 win over Cincinnati in the New Orleans Bowl. The win was UNT's first in a bowl game since 1946.

"What Andrew did for us as a player paled in comparison to what he brought to the team as a person," UNT offensive coordinator Ramon Flanigan said. "He was unselfish and a hard worker. You don't find a lot of kids like that who play quarterback any more."

Smith maintained his role as UNT's starting quarterback through the first four games of the 2003 season before giving way to Hall, who led the Mean Green to a third straight Sun Belt title. Smith was expected to compete with Hall for the starting spot this fall.

Smith threw for 1,393 yards and eight touchdowns with 13 interceptions in his career.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press