Cody Smith, a 2012 Prairie View graduate, has signed a letter-of-intent to attend Hill College, a Texas juco, on a rodeo scholarship.

As a competitor, bareback rider Cody Smith of Bastrop was naturally a little disappointed when he fell just two points shy of winning a recent rodeo in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Although Smith didn't realize it at the time, the second-place finish would lead to quite a consolation prize.

Smith signed a scholarship with Hill College on Sunday afternoon at the Silver Spur, his family’s business, and will begin competing for the Texas junior college in the fall.

Jake Brown, who edged out Smith for first place in the Sulphur Springs rodeo, is the bareback coach at Hill where his father, Paul Brown, is athletic director and head rodeo coach.

When Jake Brown first approached Smith about the possibility of joining the Hill rodeo team the night of the Sulphur Springs event, the 2012 Prairie View graduate politely declined. By the time the two spoke again over the phone, Smith had changed his mind.

“Jake started talking to me the night of the rodeo and I told him I wasn't interest, then I got to thinking about it and looking into it,” Smith said. “When I told him I was interested, he told me he would take care of everything.”

Since graduating from high school, Smith was content working for Copeland Electric in the apprenticeship program through Delta Community College and competing in rodeos throughout the region. In fact, Smith, who qualified twice for the national high school finals, turned down several scholarship offers upon graduation.

“When I was in high school, I just wanted to get out of high school and be done with it,” Smith said. “I had some offers my senior year, but never pursued any of them. I wasn't planning on going to college two months ago, either.”

It wasn't that Smith didn't appreciate the offers, he was just more interested in his long-term goal of riding in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“I always wanted to go to college, but it's always been my dream to ride in pro rodeo,” Smith said.

With only three years of college eligibility remaining, Smith realized this was probably his final chance to compete at the collegiate level.

Besides the chance to begin pursing his college degree, Hill offers Smith a wide range of rodeoing opportunities. Located in Hillsboro, between Dallas and Waco, the campus is in the middle of a rodeo hotbed.

“This was an offer that I thought was too good to pass up,” said Smith, who plans to major in physical therapy or sports medicine. “I feel like this will give me an opportunity to do what I really want to do. I can always come back here if I need to.

“Besides, I'm more interested in going to school than I was two years ago.”