Only a junior heading into the 2005 season, some in the recruiting circles are hinting that Chris Smith of South Point High School may already be the best quarterback prospect in the state of Ohio. High praise no doubt when you consider that the recruiting class of 2006 alone is loaded with signal callers with better than average skills from all across the state.
So where exactly did Smith come from all of the sudden?
"I've been starting on the varsity since I was a freshman," said the 16-year-old field general who won't turn 17 until Oct. 14. "I didn't start playing football at all until I was in the seventh grade. I never played midget league or anything like that."
A check of the Ohio High School Directory shows that South Point is in the Southeast District of the state in Lawrence County in the southern most part of the state, hence the name.
The Pointers, clad in navy blue and maize, haven't had much success as a team yet with Smith at the helm but the future obviously looks a whole lot brighter.
"We were 2-8 last season but we had a lot of injuries and we started 18 sophomores on the team," Smith said. "We should be a lot better coming up this year. We'll have a lot more experience."
Although Smith started under center as a freshman, he missed some games that year because of an injury and had limited success on the season. But in his sophomore campaign, Smith threw for 1,500 yards and ran for almost 600 more. He threw for 11 touchdowns and scored six more TDs on the ground.
"I don't know what all the fuss is about," said Smith prior to participating in the recent Scout.com combine at the University of Akron. "I just like to play and everything seems to be falling into place. But I don't really like to talk about myself."
At 6 feet 3 inches tall and 215 pounds, Smith, who reluctantly admitted that he likes to throw on the run and is pretty adept already at reading defenses, would prefer to let his actions on the gridiron do the talking for him.
"I just like being in control," he said. "The world is on my shoulders every play."
Smith never really imagined having so much attention focused on him the way it is already starting to.
"I'm just taking it all in stride," he said. "I don't really take any of it too seriously. I just want to try to get a scholarship and play football at the next level. I still have a whole lot to polish up on."
Attending various camps and combines throughout the spring and summer time should not only help Smith hone his skills but also improve his visibility to recruiters.
"I just want to let more colleges get a look at me and stuff," he said. "I'm really just an average guy that likes to play a little football."
But even Smith himself can't help but see the potential in the opportunity that's ahead of him now.
"It's real exciting," said the strong-armed passer who can lead an option running attack with equal aplomb. "But I'm really just hoping to get a chance to play at the next level."
And before you know it, schools from all across the country will be lining up to try and convince Smith that he should become a member of their program on the next level. At this point, however, Smith says he has no real allegiance to any particular university including Ohio State.
"I'm real good friends with Mark Snyder who is now at Marshall but I grew up liking the (University of Tennessee) Vols," he said. "But I'll go to an Ohio State game if I'm invited."
Smith will actually be on the campus of The Ohio State University this coming weekend as he is set to compete in the state track meet at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. He qualified to throw the shot and the discus in Division II.