What happened in between is a lot of hard work, goal-setting and a relentless attitude that made the Ventura Community College athlete one of the top JuCo prospects in the nation
"I was ... short academically with the NCAA eligibility center," said Smith, a 2012 graduate of Timberline High School in Boise. "I had some family things going on my senior year that had me distracted."
He took a year off from football after high school, mainly to focus on his body. At 5 foot 8 and 150 pounds, college football seemed like a no-go for him.
"I knew that if I wanted to play that I needed to put on some weight," he said. "It was pretty much a redshirt year for me without actually taking one."
It worked as Smith packed on 30 pounds. His body helped out as he grew three more inches.
Smith enrolled at Ventura for the 2013 season and was the team's third receiving option. Undeterred by the lack of receptions, he focused on becoming an all-around player.
"I did everything I could away from the ball, like blocking," Smith said.
After a subpar academic fall at Ventura and because he tweaked an anterior cruciate ligament, Smith redshirted in 2014.
"It was probably the best thing because it made me focus on my hips and get strength in my lower body," he said. "I worked with the guy who trained Demaryus Thomas. Now I feel as explosive and athletic as I've ever been."
Colleges noticed Smith during spring ball at Ventura and he began racking up offers. Alabama, Florida, Arkansas State, BYU, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Georgia State, Northern Arizona, San Jose State, South Alabama and Utah State, among others, all extended scholarships opportunities to him. Boise State, Oregon and USC are additional schools that have interest in the now 5-foot-11, 192-pound athlete.
With all the recent attention, Smith is able to look back at the path he has taken with a unique perspective.
"It's humbling. It's a great mind-check," he said. "It's great to know that you can accomplish anything. That's what I want people to get out of my experience; to continue chasing their dreams.
"I had a lot of people doubting me, telling me I was too small and I wasn't that good of a football player. It's great to know that if you work hard, anything can happen."
Now, with his academics in order, Smith has one semester of junior college remaining as he plans on being a mid-year enrollee at his next school.
Being a Boise native, Smith is intrigued by the attention from the coaches at BSU he has been receiving. He receives messages from at least one of them every day and he plans on visiting campus when he's back home for the summer. Smith anticipates an offer from the Broncos, but he doesn't want to get ahead of himself.
"They're really excited for me to stop by," he said. "It's great to get that exposure, to be a home-town kid.
"I hope they (offer) because that's always been a dream of mine, to play in my home town. When I was 7 I told my mom that it was going to be me out there scoring touchdowns when we went to Boise State games."
Smith doesn't have a specific date when he would like to commit yet, but he does plan on taking a few official visits before he makes his final decision.
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