Smith attended Independence High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Where he started for three years out of four and was part of a team that went undefeated and won four straight state titles. During his time at Independence High School he was often rotated between middle and outside linebacker. He was an all-state recognition twice, an all-conference nominee three times, and named team MVP his senior year. Smith also lettered three years in basketball.
Smith went on to play for the Appalachian State University Mountaineers, where he led the NCAA Division I FCS in active tackles with 525 by the end of his career. He also became the first Appalachian State player since three-time NFL Pro Bowl nominee Dexter Coakley to have more than 500 tackles in his career. He majored in Business Management.
Smith had an eventful first season with the Mountaineers, even though he did not hold the starting job until the seventh game of the season. Even so, he recorded more tackles than any Appalachian State freshman since Dexter Coakley in 1993, and had at least 10 tackles in five of his first nine starts. He was named the Southern Conference Defensive Player of the month for November after leading the conference in tackles with 49, interceptions with two, and passes deflected with five. His first interception was against The Citadel, which he ran back 43 yards for a touchdown. During this game, he broke the record for tackles by a freshman in a game (also held by Coakley). He was named the Southern Conference Player of the week after a game against Chattanooga after recording 14 tackles and 2 pass break-ups. In the National Championship game against the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens, he recorded 10 more tackles.
Following his successful freshman year, Smith continued on as the starting linebacker and started all 14 games. His arguably best performance of his sophomore season took place against the Samford Bulldogs, a game in which he had 16 tackles (12 solo). Following this game, was once named the Southern Conference defensive player of the week. He again received this honor after a contest against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Smith finished the season with 123 tackles, including 53 solo tackles. He finished second in the conference and 12th in the nation and received second team Southern Conference honors.
Smith's success at Appalachian State University continued into his junior year, a year in which he was elected a first-team All-American by the Sports Network, and all-conference by the coaches and media. He started all fourteen games of the season and tallied fourteen tackles in the opener against East Carolina University. He continued on to earn National and Southern Conference Defensive player of the week for his performance against Samford University with 17 tackles, the most by any Mountaineer since his Freshman year. He finished the season with 137 tackles (60 solo), and with two forced fumbles and recoveries, the most on the team.
Continuing the streak, Smith started all 13 games in his final season as a Mountaineer and was once again named a First-team All American by the Sports Network and College Football News. He was named as a second team all-American by Phil Steele, and to the third team by the Associated Press. On top of this, he was given first team all Southern-Conference honors by the Coaches and Media. Though he did in fact start every game that season, only six of them were at weak-side linebacker (The position he had played most of his career). He was then moved to middle linebacker due to injuries. Even so, he still posted double-digit tackles in ten out of thirteen games. His first start at linebacker came against Samford, where he intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards to set up a touchdown. In his final season, he registered a career-high 146 tackles (5th nationally), with 76 of them being solo.
Smith was thought by scouts to be on the shorter side for a linebacker and stated that he "has trouble finding the ball inside at times due to his lack of height." Scouts stated that his arms were too small and limited his ability to "grab NFL backs on the way through or get off blocks.". They also stated that he has a habit of overrunning plays. On the positive side, they stated that Smith was a "Thick, compact linebacker", who often "Scrapes down the line, stays square to get to the ball.". NFL Scouts stated that he was good at changing directions with limited space and that he was an "Excellent wrap-up tackler in space"
Smith was selected by the Packers 186 overall with the second of three sixth round picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. Smith responded to being drafted by stating: "I'm ecstatic that Green Bay saw my talent and decided to pick me up.”
Smith was released by the Packers on April 24, 2013 after he failed a physical.
Smith was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Chargers on April 25, 2013. He was released before the season.
Smith signed with the Houston Texans on November 13, 2013.
Smith signed with the Carolina Panthers on January 3, 2014.