Riley Smith
No. 26
Personal information
Born:(1911-07-14)July 14, 1911
Carrollton, Mississippi, U.S.
Died:August 9, 1999(1999-08-09) (aged 88)
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
High school:Columbus
(Columbus, Mississippi)
NFL Draft:1936 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:58
Receiving yards:300
Passing yards:290
Total touchdowns:8
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1942–1945
Rank Lieutenant Commander
Battles/warsWorld War II
Player stats at · PFR

Riley Henry Smith (July 14, 1911 – August 9, 1999) was an American football player, a quarterback for the Boston Redskins of the National Football League (NFL) during the mid-1930s. He played college football for the University of Alabama, where he was recognized as a consensus All-American. Drafted in the 1936 NFL Draft, he is known for being the first drafted player to play football in the NFL; Jay Berwanger, the only player drafted before him, never played due to salary disagreements. He was also the starting quarterback in the first ever postseason game in Redskins history in 1936 when they made the NFL Championship Game.

After his NFL career ended, he became a coach.[1]

Early life

Born in Carrollton, Mississippi, Smith played high school football for Greenwood High School, then moved to Columbus and played at Columbus High School.[2]

College career

Smith attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where he played quarterback for the Crimson Tide. He was a passer and runner, but could also block, punt, kick extra points, and boot field goals.[2] He was part of the 1934 team that won the Rose Bowl, was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American in 1935, and also won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the Southeastern Conference.[2]

Smith played in the East-West Shrine Game and the College All-Star Game.

Professional playing career

Smith was the second player chosen (behind Jay Berwanger) in the first-ever 1936 NFL Draft.[3] In 1936 and 1937 he missed only three minutes in 26 Redskins games, but an injury ended his playing career early.[2]

Coaching career and later life

After retirement as a player, Smith became an assistant coach at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he was the backfield coach in 1939 in 1940, then succeeded Warren E. Tilson as head coach in 1941.[4] He served in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant commander from 1942 to 1945 and then became a real estate developer in Mobile, Alabama.[2]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Washington and Lee Generals (Southern Conference) (1941)
1941 Washington and Lee 1–6–2 1–2–2 10th
Washington and Lee: 1–6–2 1–2–2
Total: 1–6–2


  1. ^ "Former Tide great Riley Smith, 88, dies". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). Associated Press. August 11, 1999. p. 1C.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Riley Smith's College Football HOF profile". College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  3. ^ "1936 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved March 20, 2023.
  4. ^ "Washington And Lee Puts Smith Into Tilson's Place". Rocky Mount Telegram. Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Associated Press. April 21, 1941. p. 6. Retrieved August 20, 2019 – via open access.