'I'd Love To Play There'

MANHATTAN, Kan. - After spending a redshirt season at Arizona Western, Antonio Smothers transferred to Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College where he made a big splash in the Western States Football League as a freshman.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker picked up his first D-1 offer in late March from Kansas State assistant coach Taylor Braet and remains high on the Wildcats entering the summer months.

"The [Kansas State] offer had to be from my freshman highlight tape," said Smothers. "My roommate, Calvin Heurtelou, and I sent them our film and they offered us both on the same day. They said they loved how I fast and physical I play and how well I move downhill. It's funny because I think I play a lot like Arthur Brown who played there and they told me the same thing. There's a good connection because my head coach [at Scottsdale] was coached by the linebackers coach. I like the direction the football program is going. I'd love to play there if it came down to it."

Originally from the Chicago area, Smothers played his high school ball at West Side High School in Gary, Ind. He joined Doug Madoski's Fighting Aetichokes in 2012. In eight games in 2012 for the Scottsdale C.C., Smothers made 53 tackles and nine tackles for loss.

"The JuCo experience has definitely helped elevate my game," he said. "You get different styles of coaching. My linebacker coach here played in the NFL for the 49ers. Helped take my game to the next level. This spring I felt like my instincts have improved. I'm flying around all over the field and hitting with bad intentions. I've place a lot of emphasis on perfecting my technique this spring. I think when I get down my technique, I'm going to play better."

After the initial Kansas State offer, Smothers picked up offers from Cincinnati, Memphis, Miami. The coaching connection with Madoski and Mike Cox and the Wildcats long history recruiting Junior College players could prove favorable in landing Smothers who plans of graduating in December.

"I'd like to play on a defense with a stellar reputation," explained Smothers on choosing a D-1 program. "I'll look at the different styles of defense they run. I'm also going to take a look at the depth chart. I check out how many junior and senior linebackers they have on the roster. I want to see how the coaches treat their players and how many JC guys they usually take each year."

In the Fighting Artichokes dime package, Smothers plays middle linebacker, but will move up to the line at defensive end in third and long situations to rush the quarterback. In 2012, he was named first team All-Conference and all-Region.

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