Note: Written in 2024.
In my newspaper days in the early 1980s, I photographed high school and NAIA college football. When I was getting back into photography at the turn of the century, in addition to baseball I often went out to local New England football games at various levels from high school to the Ivy League. On Sept. 14, 2002 I went to a Division 2 college game with CW Post at Bryant in Smithfield, Rhode Island. CW Post (now known as LIU Post) was hyping its running back as a Heisman Trophy candidate. The big New York City newspapers even went along with the hype, with the Post and the Daily News both writing features on Smart and duly reporting his candidacy.
Ian Smart was a talented running back. He led all divisions of college football with 2,536 yards as a junior in 2001. As a senior in 2002, he had some injuries and also came out of some blowout games so didn't have quite as many yards. He holds the D2 record for most TDs per game, 2.09, and is eighth on the D2 career rushing list. He had a cup of coffee in the NFL, then found his niche as a kick returner in the CFL. But as far as I can tell, he received no votes in the 2002 Heisman race, and didn't even win the D2 Harlon Hill Award, finishing second to Grand Valley QB Curt Anes.
Here he is making a long TD run against Bryant. I don't have his stats from the game, but CW Post won 14-3, went undefeated in the regular season, and got drubbed in the D2 playoffs 62-13 by eventual national champion Grand Valley, quarterbacked by Anes.
A few weeks later, I attended Harvard at Brown in Providence. The Ivy League is considered Division 1 FCS (formerly 1-AA) even though they don't participate in the FCS playoffs. Brown's star in 2002 was receiver Chas Gessner. The next image below was added to the Rhode Island gallery today. The final image is one of my long-time favorites of a TD catch in process (despite the DB's hand holding his shoulder). But Brown lost 26-24 during a dismal 2-8 year. Gessner knocked around the NFL for a while and even played professional lacrosse. As far as I can tell, he only played in one NFL game and accumulated no stats, but he did get a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots for being employed by them in 2003.
I shot some football in 2003, but I got very busy traveling for the next few years and shifted completely over to wildlife photography. Interests change.