Lineman returns from Tempe with an offer

Mission Viejo (Calif.) center Cole Smith attended Arizona State's Junior Day this past Saturday and a pleasant surprise awaited him at the end of the event.

"It was very interesting," Smith said of his unofficial visit to Arizona State. "This was the first Junior Day I attended and it really gave me a sense of what college is going to be like and I really enjoyed it. Seeing the facilities and the weight room was one of the highlights of the day. I was also impressed with how much the coaches emphasized character, how they treat the players like their own sons so they can bring the best out of them.

"There was also a player panel where the coaches left the room and the recruits and their parents could ask them questions. There was a player from Washington State (Jordan Simone) who transferred to Arizona State and he talked about how the expectations are so different here because it's championship or bust. That was real impressive to me."

The 6-3 266-pound Cole Smith met with offensive line coach, Chris Thomsen, and said that Thomsen was both complimentary of his skills as well as offering helpful feedback.

"He told me that the center position is key because he leads the entire offensive line," Smith described, "so that is why my knowledge of the game can really help. He really liked my athleticism and balance and how well I moved for someone my size. My goal is to get to summer camp at 280 lbs.

"I really liked his character and the way he teaches. He told me a lot of stuff that I didn't hear before on how to improve my technique. That really gave me a lot to think about on how I can get better this year. Stuff like throwing my hips into a block."

Smith reported weight room marks of 420 lbs. squatting, 300 in the power clean and 330 lbs. benching. The lineman received all-conference honors following his junior season.

The best meeting of the day was saved for last, as Smith personally met with head coach, Todd Graham, who delivered the good news to him.

"It was very exciting meeting him because he gave me my very first offer," Smith commented. "I was actually completely shocked. I was taking to some of their coaches last spring, but they really started to recruit me hard the last few weeks. I was again very impressed with his character and how fast he turned around that program from being a .500 team to winning the Pac-12 South.

"I'm a big Pac-12 fan so I follow all the schools in that conference. When I watched Arizona State I really liked their fast pace and that is something that we are actually changing to in my high school and I think it will be very effective. I never ran the read option before but I'm looking forward to learning more about it."

ASU as mentioned is Smith's first offer, and he is hoping that future Junior Day events at USC and Stanford will net him additional scholarship offers. The Mission Viejo standout stated that he is no hurry to commit before his season and will be looking at certain criteria before making his pledge.

"I'd like to play near my family," Smith said. "I have family in different states so that helps. Weather is important to me. Quality of education is too and I was definitely impressed by what I heard about that on the Arizona State visit."

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