Heads did not hang on the Greenbrier High School sideline or in the locker room when Chris Smith was on the prowl.
Whenever the Wolfpack football team needed a pick-me-up, it was often Smith who provided it.
Smith, who was expected to be the Wolfpack's go-to receiver this fall as a senior, drowned July 18 while swimming with friends at Clarks Hill Lake. He was remembered last week for his positive influence as a teammate, and for his sense of humor.
"Chris was the funniest person you could ever meet," said former Wolfpack football player Bryan Andrews, who played with Smith last season. "No matter what happened in school, or what was happening in your life, you had to laugh when you got around him."
Andrews, who was at a family reunion in Nevada when he received news of Smith's death, said the 17-year-old Smith helped him through an injury at a point he was ready to quit. He said others on the team had similar stories.
The day before Smith's accident, the Wolfpack had returned from football camp at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. Wolfpack coach Brian Smith said Chris Smith had a great camp and had established himself as a full-time receiver.
"We were just very pleased, and he met and exceeded our expectations," Brian Smith said. "We knew he had the ability. It was just a matter of living up to his potential."
The football team held a meeting at the school's media center Monday. Chris Smith's father, Robert Keeler, spoke to the players.
"Being a military man, he drew a lot of parallels with the military and football and what football teaches you and really encouraged the kids not just to play this next year for Chris, but to do what Chris would want -- do your best on every play," Brian Smith said. "It was a great meeting. I think our kids are resolved to get through this and pick up the pieces and move forward."
From all indications from those who knew him, that's what Chris Smith would have wanted. He broke his wrist last season as a junior, causing him to miss six games.
The injury forced him to draw on the positive attitude he had used to encourage others in similar situations.
Andrews said Smith continued to come to every practice with his practice jersey on. He said Smith would run routes and joke that his injury would teach him to catch one-handed.
"He wanted to be with the team, regardless, whether he could play or not," Andrews said. "He was always on the sideline making you laugh."
Brian Smith said that's what he would miss the most about Chris Smith, the affect his personality had on the rest of the team.
"His gift was relationships," Smith said. "That's what he valued, and he loved to be around people."
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