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Pitt's Kollin Smith hopes to be two-sport athlete

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, 2:51 p.m.
Pitt football helmet
Pitt athletics
Pitt football helmet

If Kollin Smith eventually helps the Pitt football team, Pat Narduzzi owes track coach Alonzo Webb a thank you.

Smith said he hopes to join the football team Monday morning at practice and become that rare commodity in college athletics -- a two-sport athlete.

Smith, a three-time Maryland state track champion, played both sports for Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro. But he set aside football when he earned a track scholarship to Pitt.

“I always wanted to play football,” he said Sunday afternoon before getting in the car for the trip to Pittsburgh. “I never spoke up about it because I was on a track scholarship.”

But Frederick Douglass coach Julius Pinkney reached out to Narduzzi to gauge his interest. Narduzzi was intrigued.

“So, I gave him a call and we talked things out,” Smith said. “The tone of his voice was that he was pretty excited.”

Smith, 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, played quarterback and running back in high school, but he said he may be best suited for the secondary or as a slot receiver. He said he would like to return kicks, too.

In high school, he won state championships in the 110 meter hurdles (14.7 seconds), 300 meter hurdles (39.04) and long jump (23 feet, 5 12 inches). He also was fourth in the long jump (24, 14 inch) in the New Balance Nationals at North Carolina A&T on June 18.

Before he made any definite football plans, Smith said he talked to Webb, who gave his blessing.

“I was surprised since I was on scholarship with him,” Smith said. “I didn't know how he would take it. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be given this opportunity. I really appreciate it.”

He said he will miss some fall workouts with the Pitt track team. “Some technical things, but not a lot,” Smith said.

“I'm old school,” Webb said. “I think this can benefit both (teams).”

There have not been many two-sport athletes at Pitt, but Webb and Narduzzi said earlier this year they are open to the idea. Former Pitt defensive back Anthony Dorsett was part of a school record-setting 4x100 relay team in 1995, and said he often would practice both sports on the same day in the spring.

“I would take my pads off and change into track shoes,” Dorsett said.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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