One of the most wanted players on the west coast is wide receiver/safety Steve Smith (6-1, 185, 4.41) from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft.
Anyone who has seen Smith play in person or on tape knows why Smith is a most wanted man on many top D-I school's wish list.
Pac10Recruting was in attendance at a Taft practice a couple of weeks ago and even then Smith was amazing. He made a grab that was thought impossible. “Did he catch that,” Taft head coach Troy Starr said. “Man-oh-man he did.”
The catch that Starr was so excited about, and please keep in mind it was only a practice, showed off Smith’s incredible body control. Smith went out on a bomb, the ball was caught up in the wind and while in a full sprint, he leaned forward, tapped the ball in the air and came down with the ball. That catch was something to behold.
The effort on that catch gives you an idea of the type of person Smith is. He only knows one speed and that is flat-out 110% effort.
Smith is a playmaker and clutch performer. In the city championship semi-final game year against Carson, Calif., Taft was behind with only a couple of minutes left on the clock. Taft quarterback Cary Dove was rocked and threw up a floater. Many in attendance thought that pass had picked written all over it.
Out of nowhere Smith makes the catch and to make matters worse for Carson, he takes the ball to the house for the winning touchdown. Smith on that play knocked Carson out of the playoffs.
Smith was to suffer heartbreak himself a week later when it looked like Taft had the city championship in the bag. A blocked punt in the waning seconds by Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey that was brought back for a touchdown as the clock ran out is the only thing that prevented Taft from getting the Los Angeles city title.
Smith has been a known commodity since his sophomore season when he caught 91 passes for 1,500 yards. He followed up that performance with a 96 catch effort and 1,500 more yards as a junior. Smith also picked off 12 passes from his safety spot. His 12 interceptions was a state best.
Smith was selected City Player of the Year, All-America, all-state, and all-league for his junior season.
Who has offered this talented wide receiver? Maybe the better question is who has not?
Smith has a list of schools that is a virtual who’s who of college football powers. Florida State, Florida, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Ohio State, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Cal, Washington, and Oregon is just a small list of interested parties that have put an offer on the table.
“I haven’t really sat down and thought about colleges yet,” Smith said. “All the attention has been somewhat overwhelming.”
“I’m looking for a school that fits me as an individual and that has the curriculum that I want to study.”
Smith has friends on the D-I level and some think they will sway him to their school.
“I like Brandon (Hance) and Ricky (Clausen) a lot,” Smith said. “There’s no pressure from either of them. They both just want me to be happy.”
Both Hance and Clausen are former Taft quarterback s now on the D-I level. Hance signed with Purdue and led them to a 6-3 record as a RS freshman. He has since transferred to USC. Clausen is the younger brother of Tennessee staring quarterback Casey Clausen. Ricky Clausen is currently a back-up signal caller for LSU.
Whoever lands the talented Mr. Smith will be getting a great football player and an outstanding person.