Smith's goal this summer? Prove beyond any doubt that he is one of the nation's elite quarterback prospects.
After turning in an outstanding performance at the prestigious Elite 11 Quarterback Camp in California this week, Smith opened eyes across the nation. The consensus from scouts and recruiting gurus? The Louisville commit ranks as one of the best quarterback prospects nationally.
One of only 12 quarterbacks selected to participate in the Elite 11, Smith competed against the finest quarterback prospects in the nation, including future stars at Florida (Jeff Driskel), Stanford (Evan Crower), USC (Cody Kessler) and Miami (Teddy Bridgewater).
"[Smith had] the best delivery, [and one of the] Top 3..strongest arms," said Scout.com director of scouting Scott Kennedy. "He zips the ball with a tight spiral, but can also drop the corner route with touch over the top. The ball never drops below arm pit level on his wind up and release. There is no wasted motion in his release and he has the cleanest delivery at the Elite 11."
Smith, who returned to Louisville late Thursday, was pleased with his performance in southern California.
"It was good, everything went well," Smith told InsideTheVille.com. "I went out there and competed and finished in the elite group. I didn‘t expect to do as good as I did. I surprised myself."
Smith's performance definitely helped his stock nationally. Currently rated the No. 22 QB in the nation, Smith, a three-star prospect, should move higher up the list after showing well against the top quarterbacks nationally in the Elite 11.
"It was a real humbling experience," Smith said, "And an honor to be out there with the top 11 quarterbacks in the nation. Usually when I go to a combine there are maybe two or three guys that are really good but every guy there was elite. That made me elevate my game to an even higher level."
Smith, who was ranked the No. 5 QB at the Elite 11 Camp by Scout.com, never doubted that he belonged in a setting with the nation's finest quarterback prospects.
"There was never been a doubt in my mind that I belonged in the [elite] group," Smith said. "I've just always had the odds against me. Kentucky is not a highly recruited state and I'm just thankful I got a chance to show my ability in camp."
Just the second player ever from Kentucky invited to participate in the Elite 11 Camp - former Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson was the other - Smith heads into his final high school campaign on a positive note.
"It's definitely a confidence boost to perform well against the best in the nation," said Smith. "Just being out there I learned a lot and got a lot out of going to that camp. I think I'm going to come back a lot stronger and better as a quarterback and a leader."
What did Smith take away from the experience?
"The main things I learned were little things like footwork, mechanics, ball motion and accuracy," Smith said. "We did a lot of mental work out there, too, watching film and just talking about the position. I learned that there's more to playing quarterback than throwing the football for a bunch of yards and touchdowns."
While Smith was grateful he had the opportunity to compete against the top quarterbacks in the nation, his best experience in California was getting a chance to meet and work with quarterback guru Bob Johnson, who has instructed numerous NFL quarterbacks, including Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and Kyle Boller.
"The best experience was getting to meet Bob Johnson," Smith said. "He's one of the top quarterback coaches in the nation. That's the same guy that [NFL] guys go to when they workout. Getting to sit down and work out with him was my best experience."
Not only did Smith work with Johnson at the Elite 11 Camp, he also picked up some invaluable advice from the noted quarterback coach.
"We exchanged numbers and he took me aside for a minute and let me know that he saw something special in me," Smith said. "He told me I have a lot of the intangibles that you can't teach and he told me to make sure when I get back home that I'm the first one at practice, the last one to leave and to be a leader, keep my composure and lift everybody's spirits on the field. That meant everything to me."
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