Huskers Take an Early Lead

Nebraska nabbed five high school players last year from the Golden State, and they are looking to add to that number for this cycle. Recently Big Red Report made contact with a dynamic playmaker who also hails from California, and he already has the Huskers at the top of his list.

Derron Smith, from Banning high school in Banning (Cali.), is the definition of versatile. His exploits as a junior on defense, 87 tackles and three picks, led to him being named Defensive MVP of the Mountain Pass League. But it doesn't end there, as the starting quarterback he had over 2,000 yards combined passing and running to go with his 17 touchdowns. Those numbers helped him achieve first team All-CIF status as well.

But when you ask Derron about his heavy workload, he says he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I play quarterback, and we run kind of a spread offense. I can drop back and pass the ball, but my other option is to just take off and run. It depends on what kind of coverage I see. We have some designed run plays for me, but other times I just take off if things break down.

"On defense I play mostly safety but if they need me at corner to lock down a wide receiver I can do that too. I return kicks and do some place kicking too. I really don't come off the field, but I like it like that. It makes me feel like I have a big impact on every game."

Even though his senior season hasn't started yet, Derron already has a few offers to this point. He also talked about some of the others schools showing interest.

"I've got offers so far from Nebraska, San Diego State and UNLV. I've been hearing a lot from Pac 10 schools too. Arizona, Arizona State and Washington all seem like they are interested in me.

"I'd have to say Washington has been recruiting me the longest, but they haven't offered yet. They want me to come up to their camp on the 24th thru the 26th of this month and offer then."

With all the Pac 10 interest, Derron was asked if living on the west coast caused him to root for any of those local programs.

"Honestly I liked all kinds of different teams. Of course being close to L.A., I liked UCLA and USC, so I liked both L.A. teams. But I would watch all the Pac 10, not just those two.

"But lately I've been watching a lot of Big 12, Big 10 and SEC football. I like watching all the big-time programs. That's one of the things that interest me about Nebraska, Nebraska plays Texas and Oklahoma every couple years. Those would be fun games to play in."

With all that being said, is there an offer out there that would cause you to shut it down and end your recruitment?

"No, you know how some guys say they have a dream school? I can say I don't have that. I plan on going through my senior year and taking some official visits, and then make my decision sometime after that."

Derron said it's too early to know where those official visits might be taken, but he did mention one school he knows he'll see this fall.

"Oh heck yes, I know one for sure, it will be Nebraska. I really want to get out there and see the campus and meet the coaches, you can only see so much on the internet.

"You just hear the word Nebraska and you think tradition and National Championships. I've got to get out there and see it for myself."

With his many talents on the gridiron, Derron says some schools aren't even sure about which side of the ball he will play on at the next level.

"A few schools have told me they are recruiting me just as an athlete, and they don't know where I'll end up. But most of them just like me as a defensive back, either corner or safety, I can play both. I would say most like me at corner, and I think that's where Nebraska likes me too."

What about the interest from the Huskers, how did it all get started?

"I'd say about a few months ago, like three or four months ago I started to just get letters from them. I didn't think much of it, because I get a lot of mail from different schools. But I really like Nebraska, and I started getting more and more letters. Then they invited me to their spring game, but I couldn't make it out there and I really wanted to go.

"So that's when I started thinking they are really interested. Then coach Carl Pelini came by my school a couple weeks ago, and I was like this could be getting serious. Then all of a sudden about a week later the offer came in the mail, and I was just shocked. I also got an email from him today, so I need to call him back."

When you received the offer, did you know anything about the Nebraska program in general?

"I knew they have great tradition. I started looking them up on the internet, and saw they have really nice facilities. They have a great fan base, and I really like that. I saw that big stadium too, that thing is really nice. I don't know the exact number, but they had that thing full for the spring game.

"And I know the head coach came from LSU after winning the National Championship, so I was also impressed with that. Nebraska also got a lot of kids from California last year. They got that guy Taylor Martinez and that other guy from Rancho Verde (Eric Martin), both those guys are really good."

What do you think has led to all the interest in you, what are your strongpoint's on the football field?

"I try to play physical at all times, when you do that good things can happen. I have a lot of speed and quickness I use, and I consider myself a smart player. I try to be in the right spot at the right time. And since I'm 5-foot-11, I can match up on the bigger receivers."

After talking about his attributes, Derron also talked about what qualities he's looking for in a program.

"Of course academics, you won't be able to play football all your life and not everybody makes it to the NFL, so you have to have something to fall back on. I think Nebraska has the most academic All-Americans, so that's another good thing about them.

"I want to play in front of a good fan base, which Nebraska also has. I'd like to have good facilities to train in too, and good coaches that can make me feel at home and get me better. Location isn't a big deal to me, and that's another good thing about Nebraska, they are on TV a lot so my family would still get to see me play."

I have to say Derron, you have said a lot of positive things about the Husker program. Would you consider them your leader at this point?

"Yeah Kevin, I'd have to say Nebraska is at the top for me. I have really high interest in them, and I like everything I've seen of them so far. I can't wait to actually get there for a visit."

Derron has plans to hit the camp at UCLA this Saturday, and possibly the USC camp later this month. And when it comes to grades, he carries a 3.5 GPA, so qualifying won't be an issue. Big Red Report will stay on top of the recruitment of Derron Smith, and bring you the latest as we get it.

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