Florida Running Back Could be the Nation's Best

The state of Florida has produced some of the country's top running backs in the past few years, with several moving on to top college programs. Notable future stars such as Bobby Washington, Charle Jones, Tyrone Moss, and Frank Gore all left their marks on the South Florida prep level.

However, some local high school coaches and scouts believe the state's best back might have been Pahokee (FL) rising senior Antone Smith. Battling through an injury-filled junior season, the 5'9 running back led his Pahokee squad to a 3A state championship.

"I was hurt some this year and only played 8 games, but I did have 1,048 yards and 18 touchdowns," Antone Smith told StateFans. "We won the state championship this year, and it wasn't just because of me. We had a good team. Three of my teammates signed with Wake Forest and they played great too. After losing to Chaminade last year we wanted to win the whole thing, and that's what we did."

Antone has been one of the state's best players at the recent NIKE combines, posting the camp's top 40 time (4.27 and 4.25 respectively) in consecutive years. However, what might have been his most impressive statistic was his bench press marks. Measuring in at 5'9 and 181 pounds, Smith benched 185 pounds 29 times (his max bench press is 365 pounds), posting the fourth highest mark among all prospects.

"The camp was awesome this year," he said. "I liked it a lot. Last year I was limited because I didn't bring my football cleats so I only ran the 40, but this time I did it all and took care of business. I have another big combine coming up and I'm going to try and get a 4.1 40... that's my goal."

Antone Smith (#2) has the ability to take over the game from the running back position, and his natural talents has led to offers from some of the country's top programs. (Palm Beach Post Image)

With the agility, size, speed, and strength combination that Antone possesses, it's no wonder that some suggest he might be the nation's #1 running back prospect. Colleges have certainly noticed his exploits and the scholarship offers are beginning to pour in.

"The one showing the most interest is Miami... they have offered a scholarship on paper already. N.C. State's offered, Iowa's offered, Georgia, all the Florida teams, Virginia... it's just a lot of them that have offered."

"I don't really have a top 10 or anything, but I mostly want to stay in the ACC. You never know, but I want to be where all the competition is. Most of the ACC has a chance."

It's still very early in the recruiting season, but Antone already has an idea of what programs he would like to visit officially.

"I wouldn't waste visits on Miami or the Florida schools, but I'd visit N.C. State, Michigan, LSU, Virginia, and Ohio State. They are running schools and use their backs a lot."

Recent internet reports have stated that NC State is clearly among the list of favorites for Smith, and he didn't hide how much he liked the Wolfpack.

"Oh, I like them... I like them a whole lot. Traditional football, strong coaching staff, they play and compete against the best in the ACC, and they recruit Florida like crazy. 'Doc' Holliday is recruiting me for them, and I've heard good things about him."

When asked to name a favorite, Smith was quick to answer back with the program who is in fact recruiting him the hardest.

"In my heart Miami's my favorite. I've just always liked them. But, I'm going to hold out and take my visits because there could be a better school out there for me."

"I'm not too worried about depth charts because I have a very good work ethic. The type of school I want to go to will play the best, and I feel that's me."

Author's Note: Personally, I think Antone just might be the country's top running back prospect. He's an absolute phenom and will be recruited at the highest level this season. Miami clearly leads right now and he already has that important written offer, but could the fact that Miami signed four running backs last year hurt them in the end? Only time will tell, but NC State's definitely in the mix with Antone Smith.

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