Rampage: the uphill journey of a Guilford footballer


First team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference recipient Robert “Rampage” Smith sauntered into Founder’s Hall with a smile playing wide on his face.

At 6 feet 2 inches and 245 pounds, he’s pretty hard to miss.

“He’s one of those guys who has made an impact on our team and our defense’s performance, especially because he’s such an explosive player,” said Faris El-Ali, senior football captain. “He’s one of those guys that always has a good time.

“You can’t help but have a good time on field playing with him.”

Rampage went to high school at R.J. Reynolds in Winston-Salem. There he learned he loved to play football.

He committed to Catawba College, but after visiting he decided that it was too secluded for his taste.

He then visited Guilford with a friend, where he got a chance to talk with the football coaches.

“He was very quiet, he kept to himself,” said football head coach Chris Rusiewicz. “I think he was just letting everything absorb in. I explained to him the opportunities academically and playing football.

“He just kinda sat there and stared … but by the end of the conversation he opened up more and smiled, and started buying into what it is we want to do here at Guilford.”

So Rampage came to Guilford, thinking that he would never have a dull moment.

But life at Guilford was far from what he expected.

“Guilford had the best education to offer me,” said Rampage.  “I didn’t know it would be this hard.

“I expected parties, fun and hype all the time. Instead I got squirrels and green grass.”

Late ‘90s movies, apparently, distorted his expectations of college.

“If this were ‘American Pie,’ then everyone here would be a happy camper,” said Rampage. “I expected college to be ‘American Pie.’ I got American lemon cake.”

Although college was nothing like Rampage imagined it to be, he worked hard both in academics and in football.

“He is a great student … and a pleasure to have in class,” said Vicki Foust, part-time instructor of business management

Said fellow teammate and first-year Tyler Correll, “Robert is very hard working and does whatever it takes to make the team better.”

During his first year, however, he sprained his knee. Then, last year, he injured both shoulders, forcing him to have surgeries.

“At first he was optimistic about his injuries,” said Satiir Stevenson. “But when he came back and he was not the same as he once was athletically, he became more determined to return to his natural form.”

“He’s the type of guy who you can’t help but respect, because he’s always working and always trying to get better,” said El-Ali. “He doesn’t give up. He doesn’t quit.”

When asked about the surgeries, Rampage shrugged off any concerns.

“I got them fixed,” said Rampage. “At the end of the day, my team needs me and I need my team. I played through the pain and I didn’t let it stop me, because it’s always going to be there.

“And if you let it become a robot, you’ll never get around it. I don’t let it stop me.”

Admirably, Rampage continues to succeed as one of Guilford’s star players.

“Robert is determined to play,” said Rusiewicz. “ Negative adversity doesn’t affect him. He just loves doing what he loves to do.”

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