June 26, 2006
By Adam Scott
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Former Purdue safety and defensive backs coach Rick Smith is now the NFL's youngest general manager at age 36 after being named the second GM in Houston Texans' history on June 5.
The Petersburg, Va., native will oversee the Texans' draft and be in charge of the personnel department. Smith will be looking to establish the first winning season for his four-year old Houston franchise, which holds an 18-46 overall record.
"I have been preparing for this job since the day I strapped that helmet on. I have been the youngest a lot of times and it's never been a problem for me, in fact, I've always looked at it as a challenge," Smith said during the Houston Texans' June 5th press conference. "I have never been complacent and I've always liked to push the envelope and I'm always trying to grow. I'm excited about this opportunity."
Before accepting this position, Smith would have been in his first season as the Denver Broncos' assistant general manager, and his 11th overall with the organization that included four years as an assistant coach and six in the pro personnel department. After playing football for Purdue, Smith began his coaching career with the Boilermakers in 1992, spending two seasons as a strength and conditioning coach before taking over as the defensive backs coach.
In other front-office moves around the NFL involving former Purdue football players, the Philadelphia Eagles named Ryan Grigson, a three-year member of their college scouting staff who played tackle for Purdue from 1991 to 1994, as director of college scouting on June 8.
"It was a goal for me to reach this point and it's a great opportunity," Grigson said. "I have a big job in front of me and couldn't be more excited because I love football and the environment of the Eagles."
The Highland, Ind., native had been responsible for scouting the western half of the country for the Eagles before the promotion. Before joining Philadelphia, Grigson served five years as a college scout with the St. Louis Rams, where he was a part of two Super Bowl and four playoff teams.
Grigson was a sixth-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995 and went on to play with the Detroit Lions that year. He then played for Toronto in the Canadian Football League in 1997 before suffering a career-ending back injury. Grigson became a pro scout with Saskatchewan of the CFL and subsequently served as an assistant coach at McPherson College in Kansas in 1998. He then served as a player personnel coordinator and assistant coach for the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League in 1999.
Smith and Grigson are two of the three former Boilermakers who currently hold NFL front-office executive positions. The other is Jerry Shay, who played tackle for Purdue from 1963 to 1965 and was the Minnesota Vikings' No. 1 draft pick in 1966. He has been the New York Giants' director of college scouting since 1977. Smith, Grigson and Shay each were team captains at Purdue their senior year.