RECRUITING: OU has eye on San Antonio linebacker

San Antonio, Texas (Taft HS) LB Darnell Smith is waiting for the Sooners' phone call


Darnell Smith is a late find for the OU coaching staff, who continue to search for the best linebackers they can sign. Smith is a two-year starter who played defensive end as a junior, before making the switch to inside linebacker this season.

Smith adjusted just fine finishing with 190 tackles this season, with 107 solo stops. Add on six sacks, one fumble recovery and two passes batted down. Darnell is also the backup fullback, but played sparingly deep in the playoffs, especially in the redzone. Smith was the starting fullback his junior year.

Smith plays on a great team as Taft finished second in class 5A after losing in the finals to Mesquite 14-13.

"I played excellent and they couldn't run on us at all," said Smith of the Mesquite loss. "They had negative 15-yards in the first half and the only way they moved the ball on us in the second half was to pass the ball over us. I really can't do anything about that and they hit a couple of big plays on us to beat us."

Smith start's in hoops, averaging 10 ppg and 9 rbpg playing center. Smith usually guards a 6'10 post, but he is an excellent athlete who can jump and touch the top of the square on the backboard. Smith benches 305 pounds, squats 410 pounds and hs a 39-inch vertical jump.

JH: What is going on in recruiting with you right now?

"Right now Southwest Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Purdue, Rice, Stephen F. Austin and Houston are the schools that are looking at me. Oklahoma has called me and I have called them back, but I haven't talked to them yet. However, if Oklahoma calls I would be real interested in them. As I wait for Oklahoma to call I have narrowed my choices down to Southwest Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech."

JH: What do you think of the recruiting process?

"I think recruiting is overwhelming. It is crazy and I haven't ever dealt with this kind of pressure before. These schools want you to come and they constantly are asking you what do you want to do. For instance, you have to look at schools where you think you can get some playing time. I read an article on Texas running back Cedric Benson and that they have recruited Selvyn Young, who will probably back him up for the next three years. Then you consider all the other running backs on the Texas roster and you don't know what they are thinking as they read that Texas will sign Young to back up Benson. It's hard to tell what the truth really is. Most of these schools try to put pressure on you, telling you that if you don't commit early then they may not have a scholarship for me. Then you have the factor of whether I want to go far away from home or not, and the weather. For instance, it is very cold at Purdue and I really don't want to play in cold weather."

JH: Do you have a leader?

"If I had to go to a school right now it would have to be Oklahoma State. They are a pretty good school and Coach (Darryl) Wyatt told me that they are in need of linebackers. He said they are taking the first three linebackers that commit to them and he feels that I could be an early player and a team leader. He calls me the sleeper, because I really came on late in the year."

JH: Have you thought about Oklahoma at all?

"I have thought about Oklahoma, because they came to my school. Oklahoma's defense is very good and their Butkus Award winner is graduating and they player that fills his spot has to be one of the best in the country. Oklahoma's defense is one of the very best in the country."

JH: Who has offered you scholarships at this moment?

"Purdue, Rice and Southwest Texas have offered me scholarships. I have set up a visit with Oklahoma State on January 11 with my friend and teammate Robert Merrell. That will be my first visit and I haven't set up any others, because I know that many others are going to call, so I have been saving some. Coach Wyatt has convinced me to visit Oklahoma State, but I have been saving a visit for Oklahoma and Texas Tech, because I really believe they will call me soon."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories