Gideon Smith
File:Gideon Smith.jpg
Biographical details
Born(1889-07-13)July 13, 1889
DiedMay 6, 1968(1968-05-06) (aged 78)
Salem, Virginia
Playing career
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
5 CIAA (1922, 1925–1926, 1928, 1931)

Gideon Edward Smith (July 13, 1889 – May 6, 1968), sometimes referred to as G. E. Smith, was an American football player and coach.

Smith played college football at Michigan Agricultural College (MAC), now known as Michigan State University, from 1913 to 1915. He was the first African-American varsity athlete in any sport at MAC.[1]

Smith also played one game of professional football while still attending MAC. He appeared as a tackle in one game for the Canton Bulldogs of the Ohio League, becoming one of the first African-Americans to play professional football. He played for the Bulldogs as a late fourth-quarter substitute on November 28, 1916 against their rivals, the Massillon Tigers. During that game he made a game-saving fumble recovery that preserved a 6–0 Canton victory over the Tigers for the "state championship." Smith was the last African-American to play professional football exclusively prior to the formation of the National Football League.[2][3][4]

After graduating from MAC in 1916, Smith became a teacher at the West Virginia Collegiate Institute, now known as West Virginia State University.[5] He also served in 1920 as a teacher at the Virginia State College for Negroes—now known as Virginia State University—in Matoaca, Virginia.[6]

In 1921, Smith became the head football coach at Hampton Institute, now known as Hampton University, in Hampton, Virginia. He remained the head football coach at Hampton until 1940, compiling a 97–46–12 record, including six one-loss seasons and two undefeated seasons in 1926 and 1931. His 1931 team outscored opponents 187 to 6.[7] His 97 wins were the most in school history at that time, and currently rank second only behind Joe Taylor, who concluded his 16th season at Hampton in 2007 with 136 victories. Smith's teams are featured 10 times out of the top 12 on the list for fewest points allowed in a season. His 20 years leading Hampton still stand as the longest coaching tenure in program history.[8]

Smith died on May 6, 1968, at Veterans Administration Hospital in Salem, Virginia, following a long illness.[9] He was inducted into the Hampton Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.[10]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Virginia State Trojans () (1919)
1919 Virginia State 5–1–1
Virginia State: 5–1–1
Hampton Pirates (Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1921–1940)
1921 Hampton 1–4 0–4 7th
1922 Hampton 5–1 4–1 1st
1923 Hampton 5–2 4–2 3rd
1924 Hampton 5–2–1 4–2–1 3rd
1925 Hampton 4–1–1 4–1–1 1st
1926 Hampton 7–0–1 6–0–1 1st
1927 Hampton 5–1–1 5–1–1 2nd
1928 Hampton 8–1 8–0 1st
1929 Hampton 3–5 3–4 T–4th
1930 Hampton 7–1–1 6–1 2nd
1931 Hampton 8–0–1 6–0–1 1st
1932 Hampton 5–2–1 5–2–1 4th
1933 Hampton 7–1–1 7–1–1 2nd
1934 Hampton 3–5 3–5 T–7th
1935 Hampton 7–1 7–1 2nd
1936 Hampton 5–2–1 5–2 4th
1937 Hampton 3–6 3–4 10th
1938 Hampton 4–3–1 3–3–1 T–6th
1939 Hampton 3–3–1 3–3–1 7th
1940 Hampton 2–5–1 2–5–1 9th
Hampton: 97–46–12 88–42–10
Total: 102–47–13
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


  1. "Celebrating the Legacy of Gideon Smith". Michigan State University. October 15, 2013.
  3. Peterson, Robert W. (1997). Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511913-4.
  4. Joe Horrigan. "Early Black Professional". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association): 1–6. Archived from the original on November 27, 2010.
  5. Draft registration card for G.E. Smith, born July 13, 1889 in northwest Virginia. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line].
  6. Year: 1920; Census Place: Matoaca, Chesterfield, Virginia; Roll: T625_1885; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 13; Image: 372. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]
  7. "Gideon E. Smith Records By Year". College Football Data Warehouse. David DeLassus. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  8. "Gideon Smith: Warrior of His Time".
  9. "Gideon E. Smith". Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia): p. 50. May 9, 1968.
  10. "Hampton University Athletics Hall of Fame: Gideon Smith". Hampton Pirates. Hampton University.

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