Introducing the 2004 Class: David Smith

Academics are usually the biggest off the field challenge facing high school players. David Smith, a local defensive end from Hamilton High School, knows this all too well. Despite being one of the stars on his state championship team, he was virtually un-recruited due to concerns over his academic eligibility. Smith told DevilsDigest that he was able to channel his competitiveness between the lines to the classroom, and ultimately play for the hometown team.

"I planned to sign with Mesa Community College," said Smith who was listed as the No. 16 player in the state of Arizona by Superprep Magazine. "But (Hamilton's) coach Wrenn thought I could still qualify. I knew I had the whole summer to get my grades up. I just kept fighting and got the grade. ASU told me if I pass the test and qualify, they would still have a scholarship for me. Twenty minutes after they found out I passed the test, they offered me and I accepted right away." Smith ended up signing a letter of intent on March 2nd of this year.

In many cases academic woes are a result of a simply slacking off in the classroom. However, the defensive end's troubles were rooted in the classes he has taken. "I have a learning disability" he explained, "and I was taking these classes that I thought would count with the NCAA clearinghouse, but they didn't. So I had to retake a lot of classes…I was two years behind in Math."

"My GPA wasn't low" Smith continued, "But those classes I took hurt me. I had to take some Saturday classes, on-line classes…I got tutored by Mr. Fazio from Mesa Community College for the SAT, but I ended up passing the ACT. Mr. Fazio helped a lot of players like Terrell Suggs, Brett Palmer, Randy Hill, and my teammates Myrio Davis and Adam Vincent. He knows what he's doing (smile)."

Washington, San Diego State, Arizona, NAU, and Colorado State all showed a lot of interest in Smith, but just like ASU they eventually backed off when they saw his transcripts. He said that Colorado State was actually the first school to offer him, but once they saw his grades, they were doubtful he would qualify. "Once we won the state championship," he recalled, "I knew I wasn't happy with my recruiting. But I didn't think it was gonna be an issue. Then I saw everyone getting offered, and I wasn't getting any offers. That's when I was thinking of going to a community college, but coach Wrenn felt I could qualify if I took the test again."

Winning the state championship was naturally a great ending for Hamilton's quarterback sack leader (25 1/2), who started 42 games in his three-year career. "Hamilton was a pretty good team before I got there," Smith remarked "So I wanted to do my best when I started playing there. I had one of the best coaches, and I've been playing defensive end for three years. Hamilton is a great program and I had a lot of success. Hopefully it can prepare me for playing at ASU."

In that championship senior season, the East Valley Tribune 2003 Arizona Defensive Player of the Year collected 9 1/2 sacks, 90 total tackles, including 45.5 tackles for loss. " I'm a pretty smart player," Smith said of his skills. "I'm also strong. I don't feel that my speed is a weakness but I do want to get faster and get stronger."

Naturally, the defensive end would like to play as a true freshman, but he's not oblivious to the benefits of redshirting. "I want to play as early as possible so I get experience," he said. "I know they're bringing in some junior college players and they're not gonna redshirt them. I'm just gonna go out and try my hardest. If I redshirt, I'm not gonna be mad or anything. I'll just work on getting stronger and faster."

Smith also sees a benefit in the school's bridge program, grueling schedule and all. "The program is going good," he commented. "But it's a hard transition from high school because the classes are at such a fast pace. We'll get used to it. We have tutors helping us with all the classes. It's good to take these classes now before the season starts. You get a feel for campus, and get to know where everything is. So when school starts you're not getting used to all those things that you already know now."

Earlier this year, the prospects of Smith donning the maroon and gold did look bleak. Hard work and the belief from family, coaches and teachers helped the Hamilton standout prevail. The defensive end said that he doesn't have a nickname, but considering the ordeal he went through, they are some that come to mind. "I guess you could call me ‘survivor', but I don't know if that would be a good nickname. Because I'm a big guy my cousin used to called me ‘diesel.' Maybe I'm just like a diesel truck that ran my obstacles over (smile)." These obstacles were at one time his academics, and in the future will hopefully become opposing linemen succumbing to his pass rush abilities.

Recruit Profile

Name

David Smith

High School

Hamilton High School (Chandler, Ariz.)

Position

DE

Height

6-4

Weight

260

Date of Birth

7/12/85

Birthplace

Phoenix, Ariz.

Nickname

"Didn't have one."

Favorite TV Show

"Jackass."

Favorite Movie

"The Program."

Favorite Singer/Band

"Juvenile. "

Favorite Food

"Italian."

Favorite Drink

"Gatorade."

Favorite Athlete

"Emmitt Smith."

Favorite Pro Team

"Dallas Cowboys."

Person you most admire

"Both my parents. They pushed through to get my school work done, and made sure I'd make into college."

First Football Memory

"Playing Pop Warner when I was 11. I was a fifth grader playing on the defensive line against eights graders."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"Because I'm a big guy, people think I'm aggressive all the time, but I'm a real nice and laid back guy."

Why did you choose ASU?

"I had my teammates go to ASU, and I wanted to stay in Arizona and play in front of my family."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"I'd like to be a chef."

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