Iowa in Mix with Smith

One of the top 2014 offensive line prospects hails from Olathe, KS. Braden Smith, 16, has some of the nation's top programs pursuing him. His coach talks about where Iowa sits among the impressive list of suitors.

Some of the country's premiere college football programs are courting offensive lineman Braden Smith. It looks like the Class of 2014 standout will be one of those prospects who can go to just about any school he desires.

Right now, believe it or not, Iowa sits firmly in the mix with schools like Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma and others. He reportedly holds scholarship offers from all of them.

"You'd be surprised," Olathe (KS) South High Coach Jeff Gourley said. "I think Iowa is one of the schools in his top group right now.

"I made him sit down and tell me where he wouldn't go the other day without even looking at the campuses. That way I can call those coaches and tell them. He took off about four or five schools that he just knew he had no interest in even looking at. Iowa was not one of those schools. They're still in the top group."

Iowa Assistant LeVar Woods recently visited Olathe South to let it be known the Hawkeyes are serious about pursuing the 6-foot-6, 278-pound Smith.

"I was very impressed with LeVar," Gourley said. "He's such a gentleman and we had a great conversation. I enjoyed the visit.

"He followed up with a nice, personal note. He was very professional. He's the type of guy I wouldn't mind hanging around with. He seemed like a really good person."

Many sophomores from around the country will be attending camps this summer in hopes of reeling in scholarship offers. Smith is one of a smaller percentage of players who can stay home.

"He won't attend any camps other than ours," Gourley said. "That's how it's going to be.

"He'll lift here. He'll do camps here. He may wander out and do some unofficial visits to look at some campuses, but that's very low on the priority list right now."

Gourley said that Notre Dame was scheduled to visit Olathe South on Friday and then he'll shut down recruiting for Smith until June 4 when finals are done. He'll then be available for colleges to pursue until Aug. 1. At that point, he'll be kept away from recruiters until after his junior season is completed.

"He's just a sophomore," Gourley said. "He doesn't care. He's more concerned about how far he throws the discus and the shot put right now.

"We're trying to do our job as coaches in keeping him relaxed. He doesn't need to worry about it. There's no hurry in this process."

Gourley thinks that ultimately Smith could end up at a big-name program, but that will not be the deciding factor.

"It's going to be a place he feels comfortable," the Olathe South coach said. "Braden is not your typical recruit. He's not the one you see on TV sitting with hats in front of him announcing his decision.

"There are plenty of humble kids beyond the showboats you see on TV. He's not flashy. He's just a hard-working, humble kid that happens to be very gifted athletically."


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