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Bill Wagner: 10 years late, former Terps, Ravens WR Torrey Smith gets his college trophies | COMMENTARY

Bill Wagner, sportswriter for Capital Gazette and longtime member of the Touchdown Club of Annapolis Board of Governors, presents former University of Maryland and Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith with replacements of his Goldstein Gold Helmet Award trophies that were accidentally broken. Also pictured is Smith's 2-year-old daughter Kori.
Bill Wagner, sportswriter for Capital Gazette and longtime member of the Touchdown Club of Annapolis Board of Governors, presents former University of Maryland and Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith with replacements of his Goldstein Gold Helmet Award trophies that were accidentally broken. Also pictured is Smith's 2-year-old daughter Kori. (Abir Chaudry)

It took more than a decade and was delayed by an accident and the pandemic, but Torrey Smith can finally display a pair of impressive trophies he received while playing football for the University of Maryland.

Smith is one of only three two-time winners of the Louis L. Goldstein Memorial Gold Helmet Award, presented annually by the Touchdown Club of Annapolis to Maryland’s Most Outstanding Player.

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Smith first earned the honor in 2009 after setting the Atlantic Coast Conference single-season record with 1,309 kickoff return yards and leading the team with 61 receptions for 824 yards as a redshirt sophomore.

Smith repeated as the Goldstein Gold Helmet Award winner, which is named after the longtime State of Maryland comptroller, in 2010 and made a return trip to the annual Touchdown Club of Annapolis Football Awards banquet. He was named first team All-ACC after again leading the team in receiving, improving his numbers to 67 receptions for 1,055 yards.

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Smith was selected by the Ravens in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft and enjoyed a nine-year career in the NFL with the Ravens (2011-14), San Francisco 49ers (2015-16), Philadelphia Eagles (2017) and Carolina Panthers (2019) while winning Super Bowls with the Ravens and Eagles.

Throughout that time, Smith’s two Goldstein Gold Helmet Award trophies, along with other memorabilia, were kept at his mother’s house in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

After retiring from the NFL, Smith settled in Howard County and eventually arranged for his mother to bring his trophies and awards for display in a showcase. All the hardware made it there safely except the Goldstein Gold Helmet statues, which are almost two feet tall.

Apparently, Monica Jenkins tripped while going down the stairs to the basement of her son’s house and dropped the box holding the two trophies, which both broke into pieces. On Oct. 16, Torrey Smith posted on Instagram a photo of the damaged Goldstein Gold Helmet Award statues with the message: “They made it 10 years and 10 yards away from where they were going to be placed.”

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That social media post caught the attention of Maryland football coach Mike Locksley and athletic director Damon Evans. Both men were heartbroken to see such valuable mementos from Smith’s Maryland career accidentally destroyed.

A day later, I received an email from Annie Peppard, assistant director of football operations at Maryland. I have served on the Touchdown Club of Annapolis Board of Governors for almost three decades and have long been the liaison between the organization and the Maryland football program.

Peppard wanted to know if there was any way to replace the two Goldstein Gold Helmet Award trophies that were now in pieces at Smith’s home. Of course, the Touchdown Club board unanimously agreed to do so.

“Our past award winners are a big part of the Touchdown Club of Annapolis history,” current president Phil Wimbish said. “When we learned Torrey’s trophies had been broken, there was never a question we would commission replacements.”

The Touchdown Club of Annapolis has honored the Maryland football Most Outstanding Player every year since 1980. All-time Terrapins greats such as quarterback Boomer Esiason, wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, linebacker E.J. Henderson and tight end Vernon Davis are past winners.

For years, Goldstein personally introduced the winner and presented the trophy. After Goldstein died in 1998, the award was renamed in his honor.

Dean D’Camera, who served two terms as Touchdown Club president and was a Maryland football booster at the time, decided the new Goldstein Gold Helmet should be a perpetual trophy. It made perfect sense since it was modeled after the Tony Rubino Memorial Silver Helmet Trophy, which is presented annually by the Touchdown Club to the Most Outstanding Player for Navy football.

D’Camera made a significant donation to the Touchdown Club to help pay for the perpetual trophy, which was not inexpensive.

Linebacker Tre Watson, right, holds the perpetual Louis L. Goldstein Memorial Gold Helmet Award he received during the 65th Touchdown Club of Annapolis Football Awards banquet. On the left is Navy safety Sean Williams, winner of the Tony Rubino Memorial Silver Helmet Award.
Linebacker Tre Watson, right, holds the perpetual Louis L. Goldstein Memorial Gold Helmet Award he received during the 65th Touchdown Club of Annapolis Football Awards banquet. On the left is Navy safety Sean Williams, winner of the Tony Rubino Memorial Silver Helmet Award. (Nicole Munchel / For The Capital)

Tilghman Jewelers in downtown Annapolis designed and built the Goldstein Gold Helmet, which is displayed throughout the year in a showcase at the Gossett Team House at Maryland.

At long last, I picked up the two Goldstein Gold Helmet Award trophies — packed safely into a box with foam containers — from Capital Gifts and Awards in mid-December. It took another month for Smith and I to coordinate our schedules for final delivery.

We finally met Thursday afternoon at Gossett Team House for a formal presentation of the replacement statues. Much thanks to Abir Chaudry, executive assistant for Maryland football, for helping organize the meeting and taking the photo.

Members of the Touchdown Club Board of Governors were thrilled to learn Smith had received the replacement trophies. Smith said his mother would be especially excited as she was extremely upset the originals broke.

While constructed of the highest quality, the statues — known in awards manufacturer parlance as “runners” — are quite fragile. On the day I picked up Smith’s Goldstein Gold Helmet replacements, I learned from Capital Gifts & Awards owner Gary Harkins that former Navy football star Keenan Reynolds suffered a similar experience.

Reynolds, the record-setting quarterback, was a three-time Rubino Silver Helmet Award winner as Navy Most Outstanding Player. The Tennessee native was presented with silver statues identical to the gold versions given to Smith, from 2013 through 2015. One of those years, Donald and Jacqueline Reynolds tried to bring the personal trophy back home on a flight from BWI to Nashville and it broke en route.

The Touchdown Club of Annapolis is presently working on getting Reynolds a replacement as well.

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