Nebraska the "dream school" for junior

When there are over 600 kids attending a combine, you are going to find the gamut in schools they are interested in, have been offered by or have some connection with on some level. There are childhood favorites, schools their parents attended or just teams they have been impressed with by what they have seen on TV. For one particular player, he is like many, having his own dream school that he would like to attend. That happens to be Nebraska.

For the die hard recruitnik, if you mention Hillside high school in Durham, North Carolina, they will probably think of one Greg Little. Yes, that's a hard one to miss as Little could be one of the top running back prospects in the country next year.

What you might have missed, though, are the rest of Little's teammates, who accompanied him to the 2006 U.S. Army Junior All-American Combine.

One of those is Jonathan Smith

A 6 foot, 2 inch, 195 pound linebacker for the Hornets, Smith proved to be one of the most prolific tacklers for the team last year, totaling 91 tackles, including 60 solo tackles and 15 of those for a loss.

From the position that is referred to on his team as the "dog", Smith is also one of the most ferocious, but he'd be the first to tell you that it's controlled aggression on the field. "You want to make that tackle, cause that fumble or get that ‘oooohhh' out of the crowd, but never try anything that's going to hurt your team," he said. "Make the sure tackle, make the right decision and everything else follows up."

Smith has used that aggressive but logical mentality at the combine, taking his skill and will against some of the best competition he'll face at the prep level. In our interview with Jonathan, done right before the final drills took place, he was happy of where he stood. "The success has been pretty good," he said. "We have been doing open field tackling and I haven't had a guy get passed me yet, so I am doing pretty good."

If you look at Smith's size, you will probably assume what many college coaches would assume when they try to project Smith in the future:


At his size, coupled with his reported 4.4 speed, this Hornet would seemingly be ideal on the back end of the secondary. In addition, Smith boasted the second highest vertical of the entire combine, jumping an eye-popping 37 inches.

So, he's got the size, speed, hips and jumping ability, to be an extremely effective safety. The only problem is, Jonathan would rather be a linebacker. "I like the action," he said of being closer to the line during a play, hence closer to the play. "I'm a physical type of guy, so I like to come up in there."

Like the rest of his prominent teammates at Hillside high, Smith has gotten his share of attention. And as you would expect, it's coming from schools all over the south. Smith is also getting interest from northern schools like Michigan, but the most surprising thing you might find is just what Jonathan's dream school is.

"Nebraska – that would be my first," Smith said. "Other than that I'd pretty much go anywhere, but they really captured my attention."

For someone Smith's age, he's probably not going to be able to tell you much about Tommie Frazier and his exploits with the big red. He's probably not going to be able to tell you just what a "Blackshirt" is either. What Smith can tell you, though, is what others have told him, which is why the Huskers stand alone.

"I've heard a lot of people talk about them," Smith said of people he knows telling him about Nebraska. "They say it's a good school and that they produce a lot of good athletes. A lot of them go to the next level and play in the league, so I thought that would be a good opportunity for me and increase my chances (of going to the NFL)."

The stars shine brightly in the eyes of prospects around the country, thinking about the next level and some even the level after that. Smith finds himself one of those that looks as far as he can, but he keeps himself firmly in the present. There's goals yet to accomplish at the prep level before he can even think about what he'll do at the next level and beyond.

There's some unfinished business

"We did ok last year, but this is our year to show everyone what's up," Smith said. "We have a lot of older guys now that will be seniors that are big weapons on the team. I know that we are expecting a lot of ourselves and each other."

"We're putting high school football in North Carolina on the map."

As for his dream school, Smith said that he'll wait and see what the big red does, but he won't let that stop him from checking everyone else out as well. Like in football, you can't count on one thing too much or the next thing you know, something else happens and you aren't prepared.

That's not Smith, because he likes to be prepared for anything, so in recruiting, he'll take it as it goes and whatever happens, happens.

His goals still won't change.

"I'm just playing this recruiting thing out and seeing what happens," he said. "It should be a lot of fun and I know a lot of my teammates are getting recruited, too. I am sure we'll all think about that throughout the season and everything, but we know what we have to do before any of that stuff happens."

"We win state and everything else is just like icing on the cake. Winning state is what matters right now."

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