Braden Smith Talks Recruiting
Braden Smith doesn't do interviews. The five-star offensive tackle is almost as well-known for (politely) turning down reporters as he is for being one of the premiere prospects in the class of 2014. That is until he has something to say, of course. Then, he chooses his words carefully. "I don't really pay attention to it," Smith says of the interest his recruitment has generated. "I'm just focusd on playing for Olathe South right now." The attention Smith has brought to the Falcon program is impossible to ignore. Powerhouse college football programs learned of the 16-year old man-child after his sophomore season. After seeing him on tape, they all asked the same question: where is Olathe, Kansas? "You've got coaches coming in, and they want players" Olathe South Head Coach Jeff Gourley says. "With Braden, the different schools we are seeing – Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Michigan…" "He's just a junior, so it will pick up." Gourley is right. As the number two offensive tackle prospect in the country, the hype surrounding Smith will continue to build. Viewed by many college football fans as a program-changing prospect, he's just another kid in the Falcons' locker room. "My teammates don't treat me differently," Smith says, smiling. "They know about my recruitment and think it's cool, but they treat me like any other person." In the hallways of Olathe South High School, it's impossible for the 6-foot-6, 278-pound junior to blend in. Standing over a foot taller than the majority of his classmates, anonymity is hard to come by. "They know about my recruitment," he says. "They say things like, ‘hey, you should go here,' or, ‘hey, that team has cool uniforms.' They think it's cool, but they don't understand what the process is like for me." Asked what he makes of the fact that so many people wonder where he will end up going to college, Smith laughs it off. "People want to know, but they are good-natured and don't really try and press the question." With his unbelievable size – he grew nearly a quarter-inch during the season, putting him at 6-foot-6 ¼" – and freakish strength – he bench presses 475 pounds and squats 525 – the interest in Smith is easily understood. He has become something of an urban legend in Kansas City…and he's just a junior. "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is," Gourley says. "This is true." Smith just smiles at the praise from his head coach. "I'm very lucky to have Coach Gourley," he says. "He's taught me the values of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, commitment, and being goal-driven on and off the field." As he enters a critical offseason, Smith's goals are clear. "I want to enjoy my college experience. My priority in college is to get my degree and do my best to help my university win. The NFL would be nice, but getting my degree is my top priority at this time."
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