Smith Won't Rush Decision
Braden Smith doesn't care how long it takes, he's going to get this right. "I will not decide anytime soon," he says, matter-of-factly. The 6-foot-6, 278-pound offensive tackle from Olathe South High School chooses his words carefully. Why would choosing a school be any different? "There are many variables one must consider. Things like conference realignment, coaching changes, and the new BCS format." He's just 16-years old, and he has blue-blood college football coaches and fans alike hanging on his every word. He knows you want him to name a leader, or at least the "Live 5" Head Coach Jeff Gourley has acknowledged. He's got nothing for you. "This question is asked all the time," he says with a smirk. "I'm open at this time. There are too many variables this early in my recruitment to narrow any possible schools down, at least at this point." He does know what he's looking for from prospective programs. "The factors that matter most to me are academics, tradition, culture, and atmosphere," Smith says with no hesitation. "I want to visit all the schools I have interest in, and that can be very time consuming." A five-star prospect and the #2 offensive tackle prospect in the class of 2014, Smith was a first team all-league, all-state, and all-metro selection in 2012. He was also a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the top lineman or linebacker in the Kansas City area. Unaffected by the accolades, Smith relishes the idea of earning his opportunity. "I am always willing to work hard and earn what playing time I get," Smith says, genuinely excited to compete for a spot in the lineup. "If they think I should redshirt, then I am willing to redshirt." Although rated as an offensive tackle, Smith actually plays guard for the Falcons. He is a two-way player, lining up as the nose tackle in Olathe South's 3-4 front. Despite his height, the junior is surprisingly flexible, allowing him to play with very good leverage. His low pad level and exceptional strength have some debating whether he could have a future on the defensive side of the ball. "I prefer offensive line," Smith says, quietly. "But, if I was asked to help the team and play defense, I would consider it." The reserved, soft-spoken teenager breaks into a wide smile. "I'm just waiting for someone to ask me to play both ways," he says with a laugh. "I want to enjoy my college experience," Smith says, still smiling. "My priority in college is to get my degree to do my best to help my university win." "The NFL would be nice, but getting my degree is my top priority at this time."
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