Douglas’s Chris Smalley preparing to make big impact in freshman season at Nevada

Published: Aug. 20, 2022 at 6:46 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - He’s the only local scholarship player on Nevada’s defense.

“Coming from Douglas, it means more to us Northern Nevada guys at our hometown college. It means so much to me,” freshman linebacker Chris Smalley said of his opportunity to compete for the Wolf Pack.

He’s just one of two area talents on the entire football roster getting a stipend. Smalley is ready to take the field as a true freshman at Nevada - hoping for a full season of production. A broken left arm cost him most of his senior year of high school on the gridiron.

“It was disappointing,” Smalley said of his injury. “Coming out I didn’t get to play football. I thought I was more excited coming out and playing here than I would have been. I basically played a year and a half ago. I like coming out here and having a fresh start.”

Chris won’t play for the coach he committed to a year ago. While many coaches and players left with Jay Norvell for Colorado State, Chris says he committed to a program, not a coach.

Having grandparents close by doesn’t hurt either.

“Everyone has been texting me ‘hey I’m coming to your game. I can’t wait to watch you guys. Can’t wait to support you and come see you after the game.’ I’ve been blown away with how much people are supporting me,” said Smalley.

The 6′5″ 220 pounder has been taking reps at practice as a rush linebacker and credits outside linebackers coach Joe Bolden for his progress through camp.

That’s his position coach now, but his father, Rod, who played at UCLA and had stints in the NFL really helped Chris grow before the elder Smalley passed away last year.

“It was our goal for me to play Division-I football. It sucks without him being here but he’s with me all the time,” the younger Smalley said. “I think he’d be super happy where I’m at. He coached me through quarantine, he helped me lift. Everything I have and where I’m at is because of my mom and my dad for sure.”

Chris’s first chance to take the field for Nevada could be next Saturday in the team’s season opener at New Mexico State.