Arkansas State is pursing a few of Memphis Whitehaven (Tenn.) High School's players this recruiting season. They've offered wide receiver Justin Hunt, offensive lineman Vincent Hunter, and quarterback/athlete Patrick Smith. Smith was in Jonesboro during the summer for camp and says he hears from the Red Wolves staff quite often.
"I just talked with Coach (Kenny) Ingram recently," said Patrick Smith. "I talk to him a lot. They're really the school that's showing me the most interest right now. At the June camp, I thought I did good. I was working out on both sides of the ball. They liked my hustle, how quickly I get from sideline to sideline, and even though I played offense and defense all day and was tired, I kept competing.
"I like Arkansas State. It's close to Memphis and I have family there. I'd like to go to some games this season. I plan on talking to Coach Ingram soon to see about tickets for their first home game with Memphis."
Smith, 6-foot, 187-pounds, holds offers from Arkansas State, Memphis, Mississippi State, Austin Peay, and Harding. He says Ole Miss is expressing strong interest and he expects the Rebels staff will soon extend an offer. Although most of his offers have been as an athlete, many coaches see him as a wide receiver or defensive back in college, but he maintains he'd be an excellent signal caller if given the opportunity.
"I'm will to go in as an athlete but I want to play quarterback [in college]," he said. "I've gotten a lot stronger in the off-season. I'm not thinking so much about what I'm going to do with the ball, just letting the play develop. If there's nothing there I'll throw it away and not risk injury by taking big hits. I'm smarter with my passing and also improved on my foot work."
Whitehaven has already won a game. They beat Hillcrest last Saturday by a score of 42-0. Since the Tigers were up big Smith and the starters only played the first half of the lopsided affair.
"It wasn't a big win because half of their team was ineligible due to grades," Smith explained. "I think they only had 16 players dressed. It was good though. All of my passes were right on point. I threw a touchdown pass before I went out. We play Fairly on Saturday. There haven't finished with turf for our field so the game's going to be at J.P. Freeman Stadium. I think we have a real good team. We just got to get everybody to calm down and be serious. In the off-season we had too many guys playing around, so we had to fix that."
Whitehaven features Darrius Sims and Gerald Perry, both Vanderbilt commitments, and Mark Dodson Jr., who has pledged to Ole Miss. Last season, the Tigers made it all the way to the 6A state finals in Cookeville but lost to Maryville. Many publications have the Tigers nationally ranked and Smith, No. 2, will play a big role in determining how far the team can go as they try to make it back to play for a state championship.