Smith Remains A Key UT Target

Warren, Ark., wide receiver Bret Smith's high school career had two very different endings, but his positive perspective remains unchanged.

Smith the MVP award in the Class-AAA championship played against Rivercrest at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium with 12 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown despite playing the game with a badly sprained ankle. In the semifinals against Prescott, he caught seven passes for 207 yards and a touchdown.

Playing four games at quarterback before moving back to his wide receiver position, Smith finished the 2002 season with 62 receptions for 1,143 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also completed 58-of-117 pass attempts for 1,110 yards and 11 TDs while just barely missing the 1,000-yard mark in rushing. In the five-game playoff run, Smith caught 34 passes for 742 yards and six touchdowns.

For his ability, versatility and production Smith was named the state's top player and was the only Arkansas athlete invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. During preparations for the all-star tilt, played in San Antonio, Texas, Smith re-injured his ankle but still played for the West squad on Sunday. He finished without any catches as his team absorbed a 47-3 defeat. The setback and injury didn't change Smith's mind about playing in the contest.

"It was a real good honor to play in a game like this," Smith said. "I'm glad I got on the field as much as I did. I came out here to have fun and I had fun."

Though slowed by the ankle, Smith (6-2, 175, 4.55) demonstrated his ability to get open deep in the second half, but the pass was under thrown by Kyle Wright and fell incomplete.

"He came up and hurt it (ankle) again Tuesday," Warren head coach Bo Hembree said. "I think he was more worried about that so he can finish up playing basketball than he was playing in this all-star game."

Smith's star didn't lose any luster in the all-star game which, like most such affairs, are normally a very poor indicator of a player's ability to play on the next level.

"He's just a great leader," Hembree stated. "He did whatever it took to win whether that meant playing quarterback, defensive back and he even played linebacker in the playoffs against Gosnell.

"He's just a great leader on and off the field. He does just as well in the classroom as he does on the football field."

Smith hasn't taken any recruiting visits yet but has three set starting this weekend with a trip to Ole Miss. He will visit Tennessee on Jan. 17 along with teammate RoShaun Fellows, who has already committed to the Vols, and will make his final visit to Arkansas on Jan. 24.

"All the schools are even at this time," Smith said. "I want to take my visits and see how it works out."

Smith, who is rated the nation's No. 20 wide receiver in a year that is filled with great pass-catching prospects, would be an excellent fit for Tennessee with his ability to run routes, catch the ball and pick up yardage after the catch.

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