‘Catfish” Smith remembers Vaught, days at Ole Miss

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 6, 2006

Ralph “Catfish” Smith, a 1958 Brookhaven High School graduate,had a family relationship with John Vaught. He signed a footballscholarship with Ole Miss and played three years of varsityfootball for Vaught after an outstanding all-state career atBHS.

“Coach Vaught was one of the first coaches I had on the DivisionI level,” said Smith. “He was a tremendous person, a greatorganizer.”

Vaught’s team’s brought national prominence to Ole Miss and theMagnolia State.

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“Coach Vaught was ahead of his time,” said Smith. “We ran aWing-T formation and put backs in motion when most people werestill using a three-man backfield. Tennessee was still using thesingle wing.”

The Rebels enjoyed great years when Smith was in Oxford. Backthen, freshmen weren’t eligible to play varsity football.

“The teams that we had an opportunity to play on at Ole Misswere exceptional,” said Smith. “We only lost three games and tiedone during the regular season. We won two Sugar Bowls and lost aCotton Bowl.”

Smith said continuity in the coaching staff was one of the keysto Vaught’s success.

“Coach Vaught maintained basically the same coaching staff fromhis beginning at Ole Miss,” said Smith. “They stayed together likea family until he retired.”

Smith played on the 1959-61 Ole Miss teams. He played both ways,a defensive end and offensive end, earning All-SEC honors.

A Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame member, Smith maintainedcontact with Vaught through the years.

“Throughout life, we remained good friends,” said Smith. “I hadan opportunity to go back and visit with him when I was playingprofessional football. We played golf together a lot. It was alife-long type relationship.”

Smith played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cleveland Brownsand the Atlanta Falcons before retiring from the NFL after a 9-yearprofessional career.