May 23, 2009

Smith pleasantly surprised by new offer

Banning (Calif.) athlete Derron Smith knows how quickly things can change in recruiting.

A few days ago, he held scholarship offers from San Diego State and UNLV. This past week, however, the 5-foot-11, 172-pound prospect picked up his first tender from a BCS conference school. As interest grows, others may soon follow.

"I had offers from San Diego State and UNLV," Smith said, "and was getting a lot of interest from Fresno State, Arizona, Arizona State and UTEP."

"Coach (Carl) Pelini of Nebraska came by the school a couple of weeks ago. My coach gave him my highlight tape and he took it back with him to Lincoln. I'm guessing he liked it because they came through with an offer this past Wednesday."

Though he was excited with his latest offer, Smith admitted that it came as a bit of a shock.

"The Nebraska (offer) was a surprise," Smith said. "I hadn't gotten a lot of attention from them until recently. I was excited though - honored to get an offer from such a big-time program. I now they have a good tradition and good fan attendance."

"I look forward to getting to know their coaches better. I'm planning to call coach (Bo) Pelini this weekend."

Smith did it all for Banning as a junior, earning first-team all-CIF and second-team all-state honors as a defensive back. He ended the season with 87 tackles, nine tackles for losses and three interceptions and was named his league most valuable defensive player. As a quarterback on offense, he rushed for 1,094 yards and eight scores and passed for an additional 1,214 yards (69 percent completion) and nine touchdowns.

"Coaches like my versatility, my cover skills and my ability to come up and deliver a tackle," Smith said. "I'm a sure tackler."

"Most colleges, including Nebraska, like me at cornerback but think I could possibly grow into a safety as well."

Although he took a couple of trips earlier in the spring, Smith said he likely won't do a whole lot more traveling until September.

"I've been busy with track and spring football starting up," Smith said. "I went to San Diego State's spring game and visited UCLA in April too. I don't have any summer visits set. I plan on taking all five of my official visits next fall unless there is a school that comes in and just blows me away."

"I'd say that the three schools that have offered me have the edge so far, but there is no clear-cut leader yet."

Smith said he's looking for a good blend of both academic and athletic strength in a college experience.

"Of course academics is important," Smith said. "I want to find a school that has strong programs in either business or kinesiology. I'm thinking real hard of going into physical therapy."

"As far as football, I want it to be a place where I like everything about it. I want to play on a team that has good chemistry and good coaches. Distance isn't going to be a big factor with me. I don't really see myself in New York or Florida or some place that far away but I'm definitely open to leaving the state."

The athlete out of Banning also stars on the basketball court and the track. He earned first-team all-league honors in basketball this past winter, averaging 17 points, six assists and six rebounds per game. He's received recruiting interest from the University of California - Irvine for that sport.

In track he competed in the 100 meters (11.2-seconds), 4X100 meter relay and the long jump (21-feet-9) this spring.

"I'll be playing football in college," Smith said. "That's where I have the best opportunities."

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