Now a junior, Smith showcased his flair under center in the fall in leading the Mustangs to their first Maryland 4A East title since 2001. The deep playoff run ended with a semifinal loss to eventual state champ Wise, but along the way, the 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback filled the highlight tape of his first varsity season with enough plays to considerably boost his recruiting stock.
Smith, who threw for 970 yards and rushed for 787 more last season, picked up his first scholarship offer earlier this month from Toledo. Coach Rich Holzer expects the player’s recruitment to pick up after the basketball season ends and he can begin attending more camps.
“He’s electric,” Holzer said. “He’s always making something out of absolutely nothing – thin air. He’s got that shake to him – wiggle some people call it – that you can’t teach. No matter how many drills you do or how much time you spend in the weight room, you’ve either got it or you don’t.”
Smith split snaps for part of the season with junior Tyree Turner and still ended up with 11 passing touchdowns to go along with six rushing scores. He also caught a touchdown. His five-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the region final provided the winning points to oust defending state champion Old Mill.
Smith played almost exclusively on offense last season because Holzer worried about how an injury might derail the offense, but the coach said he’s likely to see time in the secondary next season. The coach said some of the schools showing Smith attention view him as a future slot receiver.
While Smith’s passing game is still in need of refinement, Holzer added that it’s not out of the question that he could play quarterback at the next level.
“The kid’s so athletic I think he could play just about anywhere you put him,” Holzer said.
Meade – which expects to return 15 starters next season — should be a popular stop for recruiters this spring as the Mustangs have several other juniors gaining buzz.
Toledo also extended an offer to Smith’s junior backfield mate, Kyle Evans. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound running back posted 1,129 rushing yards last season and has attracted notice for his speed and explosiveness.
“It looked like he was shot out of a cannon,” Holzer said.
Holzer believes junior Niquekko Cook, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end, might be the team’s highest ceiling prospect. He’s expecting to land an official offer from Massachusetts in the next few days and will attend Maryland’s junior day on Saturday.
Smith, Evans and Cook are all important contributors on Meade’s basketball team, which enters the postseason as the No. 3 seed in the Maryland 4A East.
Lineman Jake Hawk will also attend junior day in College Park. A sturdy 6-foot-5, 275-pounder, he carries a 3.8 grade point average and has received initial interest from top academic schools, such as Duke and Northwestern.
A former offensive lineman at Hofstra, Holzer holds a strong network of college contacts, but he said those players have been easy to sell to recruiters.
“Some of the guys I don’t really have a lot of connections with will say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know Meade had so many big-time athletes,’” Holzer said. “I say, ‘The talent’s always been here. It just had to be developed. That’s all.’”
Related: Recruit Watch: Database of offers