football

Smith staying coy

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The player that has football circles in the state of Kansas talking has few words of his own.
Offensive tackle Braden Smith is the top junior in the Sunflower State. He already lists 16 scholarship offers. His 6-foot-6, 275-pound frame dwarfs everyone else in his Olathe (Kan.) South team's huddle. The only thing bigger than his body is the buzz that surrounds it. Smith has shoeboxes full of postcards, letters and other college propaganda.
This makes it strange that his trip to Alabama last weekend was only the fifth unofficial visit of his career. Smith has passed on invitations to national camps and is yet to see the campus of either in-state school. The chance to take in a game in Tuscaloosa, though, was too much for even him to turn down.
He sticks to his unexcitable, reserved default when asked to describe the experience.
"It was pretty cool," he said. "It was my first SEC game I've ever seen. I just toured the faculties and met the coaches. It was pretty basic stuff."
The most memorable experience? Smith says that title belongs to meeting Alabama's Nick Saban. But even that moment left the lineman with a short, unconventional take. What stood out most about the Tide's near-legendary head coach?
"He has the same emotion for when he is happy as he does when he's sad," Smith said. "He just has one face. Everybody has their own facial expressions, though, I
guess. "
Smith is every bit as stoic as Saban. The highly recruited junior has taken trips to TCU, Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma in the past. He now intends to take a break from travel. He offers no hints, verbal or otherwise, about what he may be thinking. His answers are short. And the longer ones he's able to muster are full of recruiting clichés.
"I'm still just looking," Smith said. "When next year comes around, I'll have a general idea of my top schools. I'm open to everything right now. I want to see what the best schools for me are."
Alabama is considered to be a top nominee to land Smith. As is Oklahoma. Nebraska figures to remain in the mix as well. Then, there's the connection to TCU. Smith's sister, Megan, is a member of the Horned Frogs track and field team.
"I like TCU," Smith said. "It's a good place. Having my sister there, I've gotten connections there. I hear about all the stuff happening down there."
After helping Olathe South to a state championship as a sophomore, Smith and the Falcons stumbled to a 5-4 record in 2012.
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