Smalls, who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, enrolled at West Virginia University in 1982 under head coach Don Nehlen. In his freshman season, Smalls recorded 6 tackles, a fumble recovery. In his sophomore season, he recorded 13 tackles and a pass break-up as a backup.
In 1983, Smalls earned the starting position. That junior season, he recorded 87 tackles, 2 interceptions, a fumble recovery, and two sacks. As a senior, in 1984, Smalls totaled 97 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and 3 sacks.
In 1990, Smalls moved to the Arena Football League and began playing with the Pittsburgh Gladiators. He only spent a short part of 1990 with the Gladiators, recording 5 tackles. He then moved to the Washington Commandos, where he played fullback along with linebacker. He finished the season with 18 tackles and a sack on defense with the Commandos and 3 receptions for 25 yards and 12 rushes for 44 yards and a touchdown on offense.