After signing E.J. Manuel last year the coaches came into the 2009 recruiting season comfortable with the thought that they may not sign a quarterback this season. After missing on a few guys early, it was thought that the coaching staff would pack it in and wait until next year. Now it looks like that may not have been the case. The Seminoles are one of a surplus of schools that are recruiting 4-star quarterback Eugene Smith from Miramar, FL.
While Eugene was given Honorable Mention All-Broward County as a sophomore while splitting playing time, he showed just how good he was as a junior. He made second team All-State as a quarterback as voted by the FSWA for 6A. Smith passed for 1,597 yards and completed 70 of 115 passes with 21 touchdowns and three interceptions all while missing 3 games. His potential is why schools have flocked to see and offer him, and he says the recruiting process has been going well.
"Everything has been going good with recruiting. I have been meeting with a lot of coaches. The latest has been Pittsburgh and Minnesota, and Florida is supposed to be coming to see me sometime this week. Michigan is the latest school to offer me, and that puts me somewhere like 30 or 35. I know they have another top guy coming, but I am not afraid of competition. I will compete with anyone and it doesn't scare me. That's how it is at all of the schools I am looking at."
Eugene is a mobile quarterback, thus some people have the misconception that he is more of a dual-threat guy. Smith feels like he is more like the traditional type of signal caller, and he says he wants to go to a school that spreads the ball around.
"I like an offense that allows me to spread the ball. I have played in the spread and the pro-style system in high school, so I feel that I can adjust to any system. I am a passer first and I use my running ability to get out of the pocket and move around to make the play. I only run if I need to. I think I have good footwork. Every quarterback has to have great feet and it is one of the main components of staying on top. I think I have that."
"I think I am a classic quarterback because of my decision-making ability and how I am able to read coverages and schemes. I have been calling my own plays for a while now. I think I am a smart player who can make all the throws on the field. When I get stronger it will only improve my arm strength."
Recently Smith decided to announce a top 5 of schools that he is looking at. What may shock some people is that Florida is not in that list at that time, seeing how many have had him penciled into their class since Aaron Murray committed to Georgia. Eugene talked about what he likes about each school on that list.
South Florida: "I like how they are a young program. They've only been playing Division 1 for 10 years. I like that they are growing and that they are putting guys into the NFL. They use the spread well and they know how to use the speed on the field."
Florida State: "I am looking at FSU thoroughly. They have great tradition and history and I know guys like Samari Rolle and Tommy Polley that have gone there. I like how they have Coach Jimbo Fisher there. He knows how to develop people and get them into the NFL. I also like the pro-style offense he uses there. I plan on making it to the NFL and when it comes down to it the coaches in the league trust the guys on the college level who've developed the talent. Coach Fisher has proved that he is one of those guys from all the quarterbacks he has put there."
Louisville: "I am interested in their offense. I like how they pass the ball a lot. They always have good quarterbacks there and use a nice system."
Boston College: "Mainly I like the coaches there. They don't always have the best athletes or the best talent, but they are always successful. They've always been good. I look at Matt Ryan and that is someone who I watch and take some things and put that into my game."
When asked about his thoughts on Florida, Eugene had this to say.
"With Florida my dad is a big fan. That isn't going to have an effect on me and my decision, though. Looking at their roster they have a lot of guys at quarterback. With Tim Tebow you don't know how long he is going to be there, and when he leaves there are guys who've been in the system for a while after. I think there are too many guys there and I won't have a chance to come in and compete for early playing time there. I think with the schools in my top 5 I can go in and compete right away. Playing time is a major factor for me."
While the interest from the Seminoles is just getting going, Eugene has spoken to a few of the Seminoles coaches. At this time they want him to come up for a visit and check out what the school has to offer.
"I have spoken to Coach Fisher and Coach Amato. They offered me and they want me to come down to visit or for a camp to get a feel for what they are doing there. I have never been there. My coach and I are going to go there this summer for probably and unofficial visit because I feel I don't have much to prove at camps. I will also visit the other schools in my top 5 sometime during the summer."
Eugene is in no rush to make a decision. He told NoleDigest that he plans on going through the recruiting process and that he is open and taking it slow. When the best fit is known, he will make the decision to commit then.
"I going to take it slow right now. I am wide open and I plan on making all 5 of my visits. When I do that I am going to look for the best fit for me as a player. Location is not a factor for me. The best situation for me and my future is where I will be going to college."
Besides unofficial visits to his top 5 schools, Smith plans on participating in the annual Elite 11 camp held in California. The event showcases the top quarterbacks in the nation, and Eugene looks at that as a chance to prove his mettle against the guys ranked above him.
"With the Elite 11, it is not set in stone that I am going, but by talking to a few guys out there it looks like I will be invited there. I want to go there and prove myself as a player because I feel that I have been overlooked somewhat. It's motivating me and I want to go there, show what I got, and stand out."
Eugene did state that it is possible that his list may change throughout the process. While he doesn't see it at this time, the other 30 schools not in that list still have a chance. At this time the Seminoles look to be in good position, with the coaching history of Coach Fisher as a selling point. Eugene's recruitment is far from over, and right now it is way too early to say who this one will turn out. Stay tuned to NoleDigest for further updates Eugene and the rest of the 2009 recruiting class.