WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – Malcolm Smith still remembers the day vividly.
Steve Smith, the starting receiver at USC and local high school football legend in Los Angeles, came home from college to visit his family and gave his younger brother a hug. Suddenly Steve realized Malcolm wasn't his little brother anymore.
Malcolm, a freshman at the time, was already bigger than his 6-foot, 195-pound brother. Now a junior at Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, Malcolm has sprouted even more and now stands 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds.
He's also gotten bigger in a city that's all about big things. Malcolm has people in Los Angeles buzzing even though Steve is starting for the hottest ticket in town. He's the next superstar in place that knows what stars are all about.
"I've always been kind of soft-spoken and shy," Malcolm Smith said. "I guess that just goes with being the younger brother. But if you ask Steve about it, he says I'm not the little brother anymore."
That's the truth.
There isn't much that's little about Smith's game. When Steve graduated from Taft back in 2003, he was ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 3 athlete and a four-star prospect. Talking to college coaches that followed both players, most agree Malcolm might end up being the better of the two. One college coach called Smith the top prospect overall in California for the class of 2007.
"I think I pretty much have good field vision, and I'm always trying to explode," Smith said. "But I think I'm mostly just a very good football player."
The stats agree with Smith.
Through eight games, Smith has helped guide the Toreadors to an 8-0 record and a 3-0 record in league. He's rushed for 464 yards, had 359 yards receiving and also thrown for 36 yards. If you need to score then Smith is your man, as he's scored 15 touchdowns and converted on six two-point conversions.
On a team that's loaded with two other players that are blue-chip offensive recruits (Andre Harris and Jamere Holland), Smith is averaging 12 points a game. He also has 29 total tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery as a defensive back.
"Football is just fun," Smith said. "I love running, tackling, trying to get away from guys and going after the guy with the football. I'm a big competitor."
Smith said he credits his family with making him into the competitor that he is. Being the younger brother, he always was trying to keep up with his older brother in everything from football, basketball to playing around outside. Smith said his father, Steve Smith Sr. , is also a competitor, especially on the basketball court.
"My brother and I have competed all our life," Smith said. "Steve used to get me all the time in everything, but I think I've turned the tables on him now that I'm bigger and taller. He might be faster than me and can beat me in a race still, but probably not in basketball and in everything else. I told him that I got him now in football, too.
"I've got him now in that and in a lot of other things. I told him that he's now the little brother instead of me."
Smith said the competition with his dad and his brother made him a competitor, but it's his mother, Audrey Smith, that encourages him the most.
"She's the one that motivates me the most," Smith said. "She works hard. She has two jobs to help everybody. She's a claims adjuster for 21st Century, and she also works at another place. My mom is so important to me. She is the first to come down on me, but she's also the first to pick me back up.
"She's always there for me."
There is little question that Smith will be heavily recruited next season. He said he's already getting heavy attention from teams all over the question, and he knows the questions about what he wants to do will always be there.
Is he willing to follow his brother to USC? Or will he do his own thing and take an opposite path like a lot of brothers do?
"I wasn't afraid to follow Steve to Taft, so I wouldn't be afraid to follow him to USC," Smith said. "But I'm also looking at a lot of places far away like Miami, Notre Dame, Michigan and Oregon.
"I'm going to talk to my brother and get some advice, but I'm not the little brother that will believe everything that I'm told. I'll have to do what's best for me."