At first Smith thought he might slip through freshman year without making a blip on the sophomores' radar screen. But one day during sweep detail a sophomore decided that Smith was sweeping incorrectly. As he screamed at Smith, he spit in Smith's mouth. It disgusted Smith and this showed on his face and the sophomore knew it, so the next day he spit in Smith's mouth again. The following day, when Smith started feeling sick, he was sure he'd caught something from the boy's saliva. He got worse. Doubled over in pain, he tried to make it to the infirmary. On the way a sophomore dropped him for 15 quick push-ups. Citadel men leave mercy to heaven.
Once he was checked into the infirmary, Smith called his mother. She called Citadel authorities. The spitter didn't go down for it, but word got back to the upperclassmen. Cadet freshman Smith was now officially a snitch. And that's when things just got out of hand.
The upperclassmen took turns busting into Smith's room for late-night "inspections." (There are no locks on bunk-room doors at The Citadel.) Three hours of sleep in a night became a luxury for Smith. Many nights he got zero hours. He made up for it by falling asleep in class. His plan to make "killer grades" the first year and thereby get a scholarship was sinking fast.
Then came the Wofford loss, and that's how Smith ended up hanging from his closet shelf, his legs burning, his arms trembling, his fingers slipping and his ears absorbing the insults and the spit and the constant warning: "Don't drop, Smith! Whatever you do, don't drop!"
What was it down there?
"O.K., Smith," a voice finally whispered in his ear. "We're getting ready to leave. But before we go, I want you to look down."
There, gleaming in the reflected moonlight, two inches below his testicles, was an officer's saber.
A Sentinel of Responsibility
The Citadel's 15-12 loss to Wofford on Sept. 14, 1991, was laid mostly on the burred head of 175-pound cadet freshman kicker Chad Davis, who missed three field goals. It didn't matter much to the sophomores that Davis had kicked two field goals and three PATs in a win against Presbyterian College in the first game of the season. In fact, the sophomores had made him hang for 15 minutes from his closet shelf just so he wouldn't get a swelled head. But blowing the Wofford game was unforgivable.
On Davis's recruiting visit the football coaches had made The Citadel sound like the Elks Club. As an all-state kicker from Union (S.C.) High School and a USA Today Honorable Mention All-America, Davis had choices. "I thought a little responsibility and discipline might be good for me," he says.