Tad Smith, a 6-5, 250 pound defensive end from Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary’s had a very good sophomore season, looked good at the NorCal Nike Camp two years ago and was having a big junior season when a tore ACL threatened his football career. Smith has recovered nicely and is now headed to the Pac 10.
Smith has come a long way from the skinny sophomore we saw at the Nike camp two years ago. At the time, the rush end was about 6-3, 200 pounds but showed a lot of promise and big things were expected. He then had an all-league junior season but tore his ACL in the second week of the playoffs and missed all of the spring and summer evaluation camps.
“I worked hard and rehabbed hard to make sure I could play by the fall,” Smith said. “Unfortunately I missed all the camps so my stock wasn’t real high going in to the season. I hit the weights hard though and put a lot of size. I grew and got a lot stronger.
“My recruitment started to pick up and I was hearing from Fresno State, Arizona and Washington. Then Cal came in to the picture and once they offered me, that was it. I committed over the weekend and I’m very excited about my decision.
“I’ve always liked Cal and it’s been the school I’ve wanted to go to since I was a kid. Plus I have a real good friend there, John Gibson, who I played with last year and he really sold Cal hard to me. He loves it there and can’t say enough good things about it. They’re the No. 4 team in the country and it’s a great academic school as well.
“I know there is always going to be talk about Coach Tedford leaving but honestly, I’m picking Cal because I love the school. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to play for Coach Tedford and expect to, but if he did leave, the school is still going to be great and I think the football program will still be great as well.”
Smith plays on the edge for St. Mary’s but was recruited as a defensive tackle by the Bears. He has the frame to easily get big enough to play on the inside and said the move will be an easy one for him since he has played inside some the past couple of years already.
On the season, Smith has 13 sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception that he returned 42 yards for a touchdown. He’ll take his official visit to Cal (Dec. 10).