“I got family in the St. Petersburg area,” Smith said. “I got a group with them, my cousins, so I texted them and was like, ‘Y'all need to get out of Florida.’ They said ‘LOL.’
"I don't know what's wrong with them, but I told them, 'Did you see what happened in Houston?'"
In contrast to the anxieties of the player, many family members have reacted in similar ways to Smith’s cousins.
“(The Florida teammates and I) have definitely been talking about it,” Smith said, “and our families' responses have been pretty hilarious.”
Smith recounted a conversation between a distressed C.J. Cotman, a first-year corner, and Cotman’s grandmother.
“He was telling his grandma to leave and she was like ‘Oh no baby, my house can stand through anything.’ And he was like, ‘No Grandma, that house been there for 80 years. 15 mile-per-hour winds could knock it over.’”
“It's funny, but it's actually a really serious situation,” Smith said.
Perhaps part of the reason for the players’ urgency is their current need to split time between mentally preparing for reigning Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson’s Louisville team and their families at home.
Smith has expressed the importance of remaining focused on his job for Saturday even in the wake of the situation.
“I contact my mom every day and make sure she's alright,” Smith said. “But I can't have any control. I make sure she knows how I feel about it, but when I'm out here and we are game-planning and everything, I'm locked in on Louisville.”
It’s easy to understand how focusing on the game would be that much easier for the players if they knew that all of their relatives were out of harm's way. But no matter their desires, evacuation is easier said than done.
“I got family that can’t leave because of their situation,” said redshirt senior safety Donnie Miles, another Florida native. “My grandfather can’t travel because he’s sick, so they’re trying to put him in a hospital. I think they’re going to get him, and we’re going to try to get everybody else to come up here for the game.”
“I’m going to try to convince everybody to leave.”