THEN/NOW - ALONZO HIGHSMITH
Highsmith finds alternate route to success in NFL Then and now
By RICK HERRIN
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Alonzo Highsmith has rekindled his football passion in a league that provided so much disappointment.
Highsmith, a former Cowboys fullback from 1990-91, is in his seventh year as a college scout for the Green Bay Packers.
Finding talent, such as Packers seventh-round pick Donald Driver, is now his reward, filling the gap left from his playing days.
The former No. 3 overall pick of the 1987 draft had a career dogged by an injured left knee that never healed, preventing him from reaching his potential.
Highsmith played six seasons and had seven knee surgeries before retiring and making an unusual post-career switch to professional boxing.
Highsmith, 40, lives in the Houston area and has two sons following his footsteps playing varsity football.
How do you reflect on your career that was wrecked by a bad knee?
There is a lot of disappointment. My whole life was geared toward football and being successful. To me, I didn't fail at pro football, but because of injuries my career was cut short. I never got an opportunity to be what I could be as a pro football player.
What lured you to NFL scouting?
My passion is college scouting and finding talent. Nothing thrills me more than a seventh- or fourth-round draft pick turning out to be a great player. This was a natural fit for me, and I think I'm good at it.
Is this an avenue to finally achieving some reward from the NFL?
This is an opportunity to accomplish what I didn't accomplish in pro football -- like getting to the Super Bowl and helping build a team. I won't fail at this. I approach scouting like I did football.
How hard was it for you in Dallas dealing with the knee injury?
I couldn't run. I couldn't do anything. I think it hurt Coach [Jimmy] Johnson to watch me. He remembered what I once was. It hurt him as much as it hurt me. I wished I could have stayed healthy and been a part of Super Bowls, but those things just happen.
What's your scouting report on your two sons -- A.J. Highsmith at Fort Bend Hightower and Brandon Thermilus at Flower Mound Marcus?
A.J. [a quarterback] is smart, athletic and has a good arm. He is very accurate throwing the ball. He's still young and building the arm strength. Brandon is more of a natural running back than I was. I was a linebacker first and moved to running back. I think his best football is ahead of him.
IN THE KNOW
Houston Oilers, 1987-89; Cowboys, 1990-91; Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1991-92.
No. 3 overall pick in the 1987 draft by Houston. ... Rushed for 1,195 yards and 7 TDs in career hampered by a knee injury. ... Starred for hometown Miami Hurricanes from 1983-86 and won a national championship in 1983.
Green Bay Packers college scout (Southwest)
Wife Denise, sons A.J. Highsmith (14), Brandon Thermilus (17), daughter Jordan Highsmith (11).
: Was 27-1-1 as a professional heavyweight boxer after retiring from the NFL. ... Was waived in 1991 season by Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, his former coach at Miami. ... High school teammate of Alabama coach Mike Shula.