Reggie's countdown almost over

The countdown has been moving steadily to its conclusion. Day by day, recruits become commits, followers become fans and all that is left is for those coveted letters of intent to be sent, sealing yet another class of preps, each team hopeful for the future. Oh, there is the matter of those not committed and in this region, none is getting more attention than one Reggie Smith. For certain fans, signing day is when they find out who's getting one of the best players in the country.

Contrary to his personality, St. Edmond Santa Fe's Reggie Smith has decided to take the scenic tour to his eventual school of choice. Rather than getting it out of the way early and getting rid of the glut of attention that would certainly follow, Smith's decided to take the slow, methodical and thorough search to its conclusion on February 2nd.


That thoroughness has driven Smith since this whole recruiting journey started, because while serenity was out the door for awhile, the certainty he would have at the end would be more than worth the price. "If I had gotten this all out of the way early, I wouldn't have known about Josh Bullocks going into the draft," Smith said of Nebraska losing one of their starting safeties. "I wouldn't have known about (Brodney, starting safety for Oklahoma) Poole going the same route."


"If I commit early, I would have limited my choices probably and not be where I am right now."


Where that is, is one of the hottest prospects still uncommitted having narrowed his choices to a final lucky three:


USC, Nebraska and Oklahoma.


The drama behind this one has been printed ad nauseam. An Oklahoma kid that had Oklahoma in his eyes would have surely chosen Oklahoma by now. Ahh, if only Reggie Smith fell into that stereotype, we wouldn't be talking about what if when it comes to the standout safety. We might not be talking about him at all.


It's just lucky for Trojan and Husker fans that unlike most kids in the Sooner-state, Smith grew up with perhaps a more even state of mind. "I didn't grow up really following anyone," Smith said. "I wasn't like this big Sooner fan or Cowboy fan or stuff like that. So, when people talk about the pressure to go to a certain place, there really isn't for me."


"I know what it means to them, but they are another team that I am considering along with the rest and living here doesn't give them this huge advantage."


Pressure is an interesting thing, but if Smith feels it concerning recruiting, I'd be the last one to agree. He has taken this entire process with a nonchalant behavior, inscrutable and seemingly always at ease. That demeanor has even allowed him to take the so-called pressure and turn it into some opportune moments of fun.


In Smith's room he has a collection of baseball caps, laden with various logos from various college teams. There's Oklahoma of course, but along side the crimson cap are those of Nebraska and USC, amongst others. When Reggie is feeling the mood, he dons one of those caps and it's off to school for the day.


The reactions are obviously varied.


When the Oklahoma cap is worn, it's all good in the land of the rabid Sonner-fan. Smiles, nods of acceptance and the sun is allowed to come up. When the cap is not that of Oklahoma's second religion, the reactions are a little more interesting, but there's one cap that when it's wore firmly upon the brow of the Oklahoma recruit, it gets a rise like no other.  


"You don't need to guess which one that is," Smith said laughingly of the times when he wears his Nebraska Cornhusker cap. "That one seems to get more looks than the rest."


Nebraska. The Huskers. The storied rivals of the Sooners, now fast becoming the evil empire according to many message board wandering Crimson crazies. That Smith could be going to the now hated Huskers, it makes them absolutely livid at the idea.


It's one thing to lose a player to a team that just beat you in the national title game, but to lose one to a team that you beat not two months before that, it's almost too much for them to bear.


In fact, if you peruse the message boards right now, you will see many Sooner fans that have are persistent in making ight of their continual angst at the delay, each post reflecting a similar mind-set in that the longer this takes for him, the worse it is for them.


What's with the drama unless Smith is doing the impossible, actually leaving the borders of the state behind? Obviously, Reggie has to look at it a little differently. "Whatever schools I am considering, that's where I am going to be for the next four years," Smith said. "I have to be with those coaches, players and a part of that community."


"It's important that I don't overlook anything and wait as long as I need to, because this decision affects the rest of my life. It just worked out that it has taken this long."


It's not much longer, though. Just a few days to go before signing day and Smith will sit at a table, probably amidst a crowd and sign his letter of intent. For now, that's when Smith figures he'll actually know just where that paper will be faxed, but he insists that at this particular moment, nothing is for certain.


"I may wake up and know right where I want to go, but I might not," he said. "Things could change even now, so it's not for certain where I am going to sign, because right now I just don't know."


Normally and through years of talking to kids, I have gotten a sense of just what a person is trying to say. Whether it be by inflections in the voice, certain comments they make or just the basic direction of the conversation.


From not just this conversation with Smith, but all those I have had with him, I have came to one irrefutable conclusion:


I wouldn't want to play poker with Reggie.


Reserved in his comments and demeanor, Smith says the right things, does the right things and when it's all said and done, that's right, we are all waiting until Wednesday. Or, today if he's decided or tomorrow if that happens to feel right to him.


Whatever day, Reggie has for fans of all three teams given them a little more bang for their recruiting buck. That drama that seems almost mandatory for a recruiting year, that wait for one of the most stellar players in the country.


That's for the fans, though, not the players or at least, not for Reggie Smith. This is one ride he'll be glad to get off. "It will be nice when it's done," he said. "I have enjoyed the process and not many are fortunate enough to be in this position, so I am thankful for everything that's happened."


"But, yeah, it will be nice to have this out of the way."

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