Smith Talks North-South; Looks Ahead To OSU

Connor Smith was one of the top offensive line prospects in the country last year and his Ohio State career is now just a few weeks away. He is in Columbus this week to play in the Ohio North-South Classic, the longest running high school all-star game in the country. We caught up with Smith to get his thoughts on the Classic, and about his budding OSU career.

Once again, Connor Smith is following in his father's footsteps.

The future Ohio State offensive lineman is in Columbus this week to play in the tradition-laden Ohio North-South Classic, and he's excited to suit up for his last high school game.

"I think it's a great honor," Smith said. "My dad (former OSU lineman Joe Smith) played in the game when he was in high school and he was telling me about how it was when he was there. I think it's a great thing whenever you get a chance to compete and you're in a setting where you can compete against other players. Anytime you can compete, it's always good. It will be a fun game, but we want to win."

Smith joins two of his former Cincinnati Colerain teammates on the South roster: linebackers Tyler Moeller (Ohio State) and Cobrani Mixon (Michigan).

"I think it's a great opportunity for me and Cobrani because it's the last time we'll ever get to play on the same team," Smith said. "So, I'm really just enjoying it while it lasts."

Smith and Mixon remain tight friends, despite their choice of colleges. But will the relationship continue in the future? Or might the OSU-Michigan rivalry trump everything?

"I'm not sure, because I've never really been there, done that," Smith said. "I've never experienced anything like that. I know it's one of the biggest in all of sports and I'm looking forward to it. But I'm reserving judgment until I actually play in it and know what it's really like and how you actually feel about the other side."

The 6-5 Smith played at 295 pounds as a senior. He says he's been working out hard and has added around eight pounds of muscle.

"I'm 303 right now," he said. "I've been training hard. I've been training six days a week. Not always lifting or running, but always training. I love training. It's really turned into a hobby for me, I guess you could say. I just really like competing and if you get in there and work hard you are going to see the results."

Smith usually trains with Moeller, who has packed on an eye-popping 25 pounds. (Moeller now weighs 220.)

"He's gotten a lot bigger," Smith said. "We've been working pretty hard."

Smith and Bryant Browning from Cleveland Glenville were the lone offensive linemen to sign with OSU in February. (Sophomore transfer Josh Kerr was given a scholarship in the spring, technically making him the third OL in the '06 class.)

"I haven't really got a chance to meet Bryant or talk to him, but from what I hear from the coaches and other players he's a really good guy," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to getting in there and working with him and the rest of the guys."

With the Buckeyes' starting lineup likely set on the offensive line (Alex Boone, Steve Rehring, Doug Datish, T.J. Downing, Kirk Barton) and with a solid group of reserves fighting for time, the team might decide to redshirt Smith. Then again, Smith wasn't one of the top prospects in the country last year for nothing. He still needs to improve his pass blocking skills, but he's already a forceful run blocker.

"I want to do what's best for the team first," Smith said. "I want to go in and compete. I'll do whatever they ask me to do. Redshirt, or whatever. I guess that's all you can really ask yourself to do is to go in and compete and that's what I plan on doing."

Many observers believe that Smith will play guard at OSU, but he is not exactly sure which position he will play.

"I don't know," he said. "They haven't really told me. I guess you have to be ready to play all over the line like Doug and some of those other guys."

About The Classic

This will be the 61st annual Ohio North-South Classic, making it the longest running high school football all-star game in the nation.

Four Ohio State signees are in the game. The three OSU signees on the South team are Springboro tight end Jake Ballard and the Cincinnati Colerain Moeller and Smith. Cleveland Glenville defensive end Robert Rose will be on the North squad.

Twelve players in the game have received Big Ten scholarships, while at least 41 of the 68 players in the game will play Division I football beginning this fall.

John Magistro of Bellaire coaches the South, while Vic Whiting of Canal Fulton Northwest coaches the North.

Players and coaches from each side are practicing each day this week at Otterbein College. They will also make a variety of public appearances, including visits to Children's Hospital, Columbus City Council and a Columbus Clippers baseball game.

Tickets for the game are $10. They are available by calling Crew Stadium at (614) 447-CREW or by going to the stadium box office on game day.

The game will be televised on a tape delay basis by Fox Sports Net Ohio. It is set to air Thu., June 22, at 8 p.m. on FSN Ohio. It will also be broadcast live by WCLT-FM (100.3) of Newark and on the Internet at www.broadcastmonsters.com


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