Over the past several weeks, we have unveiled Ohio High's top 105 football prospects for the Class of 2006. Today, we are up to the No. 4 spot on the list. Here is Duane Long's capsule on this prospect:
4. ***** Connor Smith 6-5
270 OL Cincinnati Colerain
Every now and then, a player leaps out at me in such a way that I give him a nickname. I dubbed Donte Whitner "Lights Out" due to his hitting ability, and it stuck. With Connor Smith, the name that came to mind was the "Hit Man."
I am a big boxing fan. I remember watching Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns score some spectacular knockouts back in the 1980's. Watching Connor Smith block reminds me of some of those punches. He just destroys opponents, leaving them on the ground trying to figure out which way is up, like so many of Hearns' opponents.
All you need to do is find a copy of the state championship game where Colerain, the best high school team I have seen in Ohio in some time, played Canton McKinley. McKinley defensive tackle Antwon Hight is one of the five best defensive tackle prospects I have seen in Ohio, but Smith hammered him the same way he did every other opponent last year. He shoved him ten yards down field, he pancaked him, and sometimes he shoved him 10 yards downfield and then pancaked him, too. Complete and total domination of an elite player – it was really something to see.
One thing that put the icing on the cake for me was that Hight got mad after being pushed all the way back into the secondary. He shoved Smith after the play. Smith stood his ground but did not hurt his team by responding.
Smith is big, fast and nasty. This is my kind of player. Smith is a high school tackle, but I think he will be a guard in college like his dad, former Ohio State Buckeye Joe Smith. Ben Person is the only guard I have rated this high before. Smith runs great but does not have the frame and wingspan that most schools want in a tackle.
Smith's college decision will likely come down to Ohio State and Michigan, and it will likely be made before the season.
We also have an update on Smith by Dave Biddle, conducted recently at the recent photo shoot and ceremony for the Tremendous 26 for the Ohio High School Football Guide, which provides capsules for football teams all over the state. Biddle had an opportunity to chat with Connor Smith as well as his father Joe, who is an assistant at Colerain. To order your copy of the guide, check out http://www.jjhuddle.com/update/OHSSP2005.htm. Take a look at the update below:
Cincinnati Colerain offensive lineman Connor Smith has heard the recent rumblings that he verbally committed to Ohio State. But Smith says he has not made a decision yet.
"Those rumors aren't true," Smith said. "You can't believe everything you read on the Internet. But I think I might be close to a decision here soon. I'm going to evaluate my situation while I'm up here and, I don't know, we'll see."
Smith was at Ohio State on Sunday for a photo shoot for the Ohio High School Football Guide's Tremendous 26. His eyes lit up as he talked about Ohio Stadium.
"I love this stadium," Smith said. "It's huge. Seeing it empty right now, I can't imagine it with a bunch of people in it. I got to see them beat Michigan when the Bucks were playing for the national championship (14-9 in 2002). That was crazy. That was amazing. It was a site."
Akron Garfield running back Chris Wells is the top-ranked player in the state according to Ohio High Magazine. Wells, who has already verbally committed to OSU, has said that he plans on recruiting other players to OSU. However, he has not given a sales pitch to Smith yet.
"Not really," Smith said. "He's a good guy from what I understand, but I haven't talked to him that much. But he's a big running back; that's for sure."
Smith was asked for his thoughts on Ohio's strong offensive linemen class of 2005.
"I don't really follow recruiting all that much, but I guess there are a lot of good linemen this year," he said.
Smith is ranked as the No. 4 player in the state by Ohio High Magazine. He is ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the Midwest by Scout.com.
Smith only plans on attending two football camps this summer.
"Working out a lot is really what I want to do," he said. "I'm going to Michigan's camp and I'm going to make it up here for a camp, I think, and that's about it."
Connor and Joe Smith
* We also tracked down Connor's father – Joe Smith – a former offensive guard at Ohio State.
The elder Smith admits it's tough staying out of the recruiting process. But he wants Connor to make the decision for himself.
"Well, it's a difficult thing, but it's his life he's got to live and not mine," Joe Smith said. "Obviously somebody has to be neutral in this whole process and there's no better person to be neutral than his dad. He gets enough pressure from classmates and relatives and uncles that dad has to remain in a neutral corner and I'll remain there at least for now."
But Connor Smith did grow up rooting for Ohio State.
"Well, being a former player here, we always watched the Buckeyes and obviously he's had the Buckeyes on his mind from the word go," Joe said. "So, it's always been around the house. It's been his No. 1 team in all sports and it's going to be a difficult choice to go away from that."
Here's an interesting bit of trivia: Who was Woody Hayes' final recruit at Ohio State? Well, it was none other than Joe Smith.
"That's correct," Joe said. "I was the last guy recruited by Woody because I signed late because I was playing high school basketball. Redshirted that year (1978) and then lettered four years under Earle; three-year starter under Earle. So, my roots are deep here at Ohio State."
Joe probably could have went on to a career in the NFL, but chose a different path.
"I got accepted to veterinary school in March of my senior year," he said. "That had been a long-time professional aspiration of mine from when I was a kid in early elementary years. My concerns coming out of college were would I ever go back and get my degree in veterinary medicine if I went off to the NFL. The NFL was not a given – like it's not a given for anybody. I certainly could have played a long career there, or maybe never make it. So, I wanted to make sure I could secure a professional career in veterinary medicine and I studied awfully hard in undergrad and when I got accepted into the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State, I had to make a decision to withdraw from the NFL draft."
Today, Smith is the co-owner of a veterinary practice in Cincinnati.
"We have four folks who practice together. It's called the College Hill Pet Clinic," he said.
Just like his son, he addressed the rumors that Connor has already given a silent verbal to OSU.
"Well, they are all rumors, because Connor has not made any commitment as of yet," Joe said. "In fact, offers still come in on a weekly basis. He's going to take the next month or so to find out exactly what's there. He's not going to actively recruit anybody, but, you know, obviously he's a kid that wants to go somewhere where he's wanted. Initially our plans were that he would try and make a decision before his senior season, not to distract from our quest down at Colerain High School to repeat as Division I state champs."
Joe Smith is an assistant coach at Colerain.
"I am one of our three offensive line coaches," he said.
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