Seventeen years ago, on the eve of Memorial Day, Ellie Edwards welcomed twins sons, Naseem and Khi’on, to the world.
A day later, presumably, they were seeing who could cry louder or sleep longer or eat more, competing for mom’s attention.
“They’ve been competitive since the moment one could crawl, or one could walk, or one could run,” Edwards said of her sons, now seniors at Deptford High School. “Even just now. Kh’ion got his license – Naseem goes in a few days – and Kh’ion was just parking and he said, ‘Look, I did such a great job. Can you top that?’”
It’s probably no secret that having each other has helped Naseem Smith and his younger brother (by one minute) Khi’on Smith excel in nearly everything they do.
In less than a year, both will enroll in college with athletic scholarships. Naseem is a state champion hurdler with Division-I aspirations (the Syracuse coach has been in regular contact) while Khi’on is a halfback helping to fuel Deptford to one of its best seasons in a long time.
While they each have their respective specialty sport, Naseem and Khi’on also play the other sport with their twin, too. It’s a part of their formula for success.
“He motivates me at everything,” Khi’on said. “Like in track. But especially the classroom. Because every time we get grades he’ll look at mine and then I’ll look at his, and he’ll be like, ‘I got a better grade than you’ on this or that. So every time in class we want to do better than each other, and that motivates us a lot because it makes our grades stay high. That’s how we compete.”
Khi’on made a verbal commitment to play at Delaware State in July; signing day isn’t until February.
If Smith suits up for the Hornets – Sacred Heart, Hampton, and Rutgers could also have interest – they’ll be getting a versatile, speedy and shifty back. As of Oct. 8, Smith had three 100-yard games this season (he came within 20 yards of 200 in two of them), two 60-yard receiving games, and has scored five times, three on the ground, one in the air, and another on a kickoff return.
Naseem, meanwhile, starts at safety for Deptford High and does whatever is asked on offense, which has included scoring on a 85-yard touchdown reception against Woodstown last month.
On the track, Naseem will look to defend his 110-meter hurdle crown at the states this spring. He’s Deptford’s 55-meter and 110-meter record holder and a two-time sectional champion, too. This all despite the fact that he didn’t even try hurdles until midway through his sophomore season.
Khi’on, meanwhile, ran the front leg on a 4X200 relay team that finished second at the 20017 New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York in March. No matter the sport, Naseem and Kh’ion are just trying to keep up with each other, with brotherly trash talk along the way.
How to win a Group 3 state championship in the 110 hurdles, by Naseem Smith. Congrats, you deserve it! pic.twitter.com/b0hAr3Fh6X
— Coach Tencza (@CoachTenz) June 2, 2018
“In track, I’m a two-time All American and he’s a state champ,” Kh’ion said with a smile. “So he’ll be like, ‘I went to the nationals as an individual.’ And I’ll be like, ‘OK, my relay is still Top-6.’ We just go back and forth, because he’s an individual (runner) and I’m on relay.”
They also used to play baseball and basketball (Naseem claims he’s better in the latter, based on his three-point shooting proficiency) but decided to focus on football and track to increase their chances of landing college scholarships. The Smith twins are well on their way to that goal.
Before then, they hope to help the Spartans football team continue its spirited season. With a 4-1 record through its first five games, Deptford already had eclipsed last year’s win total (they went 3-7 in 2017).
“We haven’t had a winning season since 2006,” Khi’on said. “We’re trying to change the culture around here.”
Prior to the 2018 season, the Spartans were a combined 13-37 in the last five years. So what’s worked so well this fall?
“We have confidence,” Khi’on said, emphasizing the last word. “Over the years we’ve always talked about it but we hadn’t …”
“… been about it,” Naseem said, finishing his twin brother’s sentence.
The Smith duo obviously has each other to thank for their athletic prowess. But there are others, namely the only person who cheers louder for them than they do for each other.
“Any time we step on the track or the same football field together, we just know what we’ve got to do: make my mom proud,” Naseem said. “She’s always been helping us through all of these years, taking us on college visits, putting money toward the things we need for sports. So everything, we do it for her, we do it for ourselves, and we do it for our teammates, also.”
Congrats to Khion Smith and Trinity House for being named Homecoming King and Queen of 2018 pic.twitter.com/9ohQRCj7hi
— Spartan Track (@Spartan_Track) September 29, 2018