Coaches Corner: Jeff Smith — E. Lansing HS

Jeff Smith has been coaching high school football for 41 years. In 1970, he became head man at East Lansing High School, where he coached until his retirement this past December. The 63-year-old called Colorado verbal commit Brad Jones the best linebacker he's ever coached.

Jones owned opponents this past season as East Lansing went two games into the state playoffs before ending its season with a 9-2 record. The 6-foot-3, 212-pounder had 115 tackles, three picks and a fumble recovery, and found the end zone twice on defensive turnovers. He was named the Lansing State Journal's Defensive Player of the Year following his senior season.

"Colorado's getting a great kid," Smith said. "He's going to be a great player down the line."

Jones' older brother, Preston, is a walk-on running back at Arizona State, and his younger brother, Cameron, will play varsity for East Lansing as a junior next season. And Jones had a family connection with Colorado as his mother went to school in Boulder for a spell.

What makes Jones an exciting prospect is his athleticism. He also played tight end for ELHS, and ran track under Coach Smith in the spring, where he competed in the 110-meter high hurdles.

His best time of 14.5 seconds in the hurdles as a junior in high school is comparable with CU track athletes who run that event. Jones' time would have been the fourth-best time of a CU runner from the 2003 collegiate Outdoor Track season.

To put it in further perspective, former CU football player Lovell Houston, listed 15 pounds lighter than Jones at 195, ran a season-best 14.73 in the high hurdles in May, 2003. Jones will bring that kind of speed to the Colorado defense, beginning in August.

"When you watch him walk, you'd swear he can't run, but, man, can he run," Smith said. "He really has a great first step, and if you watch him in the hurdles, he is an exploder. He is a talent."

Jones became the third known verbal commit to Colorado when he pledged back in June. Smith said several big-time programs — including hometown Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin — came calling as Jones continued to tear it up during his senior year. But Jones didn't waver from his early decision.

"I think the whole Jones family liked Gary Barnett and gang," Smith said.

Smith has had more than 30 players from ELHS go on to Division I programs over the years, and he encourages his players to stick to their commitments once they're made.

"That's one thing I try to get the kids to do: Don't lead anybody on," he said. "If you're not going to go there, even if they offer you a full ride, let them know."

Smith let us know that the Buffs are getting a jokester, as well as a good football player.

"He's really quick, mentally; sharper than the Devil," Smith said. "He likes to screw around, but in the nicest way. He made a couple comments on the football field that just broke me up. He has a great sense of humor."

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