Smith visiting Tempe with purpose

Riley Smith is visiting Arizona State this weekend and his recruitment could reach a conclusion if everything goes according to plan.

If you ask Riley Smith who is going to run the fastest 40-yard dash at Arizona State's football camp Sunday, he'd probably bet on himself without even knowing who else will be there

Why wouldn't he?

Three years ago Smith was a undersized 5-foot-9, 160 pound wide receiver at Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho, with bad grades and nary a scholarship offer to his name, and much bigger problems than that.

According to Smith, he was 7 when one of his older brothers was murdered. Later, another brother who was also his best friend developed a prescription drug addition that dramatically destabilized the family, Smith said.

Rather than get sucked down the wrong path himself, Smith decided to run away. But he did so with a plan that's now starting to pay off in a big way.

A short stint at Snow College in Utah didn't feel right and Smith reached out to a few junior colleges in Southern California. One coach quickly replied and it led to a relationship that would change Smith's life forever.

"The Ventura College strength coach Matt Koman responded to me immediately, we kind of touched base and we we developed a relationship like I've never had with any other coach," Smith said."That was a big factor in my decision to come out to Ventura and he took me under his wing and I'm at where I'm at now.

Where Smith's at now is not only rare, but difficult to fathom. After receiving meager interest from lower level programs including Eastern Michigan, Georgia State and South Alabama following his 2013 season, Smith redshirted in 2014 and during spring ball this year he said he received a social media alert that changed everything.

"It was so random how it happened," Smith told writer Josh Webb in a interview. "Billy Napier, wide receiver coach at Alabama, messaged me on Twitter asking me what my story was and then from there it happened, and it was just going through my mind, 'like how in the hell did they find me?' I mean, a little, white kid from Boise, Idaho, who is under six feet tall? Never would I have ever thought that I would have an offer from Bama, trust me.

"Right after I finished with Alabama, USC came calling. They actually contacted me right when I got my offer from Alabama. Pretty much right after. It was pretty crazy. 30 minutes after that Alabama offer, I got an offer from Florida, BYU, and Boise State."

One of the coaches who went to see Smith in the spring is Aaron Pflugrad, a former ASU graduate assistant who was recently hired to be Northern Arizona' wide receivers coach. That led to ASU recruiting Smith, and ultimately put it in the driver's seat in his recruitment.

"[Pflugrad] saw me and kind of knew if I wanted to go [to NAU] it was always going to be a spot for me, but he knew I wanted to go to a bigger school, so he said, 'I'm personally going to put in a great word for you at Arizona State,' and then a week later I followed (ASU tight ends) coach (Chip) Long on twitter and he followed me and asked me why I was at where I was at and what my full story was and got all my numbers," Smith said. "Then about two days later he messages me back that he was going to make a trip to come see me. That's when it kicked off."

Now, the 5-foot-11, 190 pound wide receiver is planning to workout for ASU coaches Sunday in Tempe. They want to see if he's really got the 4.38 40-yard dash speed and 40-inch vertical jump he's been reported to have. If he does, Smith could be in Tempe for the spring semester with two years to play two seasons.

"I'm doing the camp in the morning," Smith said. "Coach (Mike) Norvell wants me to run around and see how I move and stuff. They picked the camp date for me to come so I can see what the facilities are all about and I can get a better feel for everything there, meet the coaches, meet the players as well.

"I would definitely say that if I like it that there's a possibility of me committing. I've been talking to coach Long and coach Norvell a lot and they're great and have expressed a lot of interest. I think they do a great job showing the players they truly care about them and they're like part of their family. That's the main reason I'm going down there, it's to check out the whole campus and I've never been to Arizona so I really want to see it for myself before I make a decision."

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