UTSA spent some time on the west coast last week evaluating several dozen recruits. One prospect that quickly rose to the top was Ventura JC Tight End Austin Blake-Smith. After a visit and some evaluation, Blake-Smith was offered by UTSA, his first.
Here is our interview with Blake-Smith:
How were you offered?
“Coach Reeve and Coach Markuson came out to practice. I got to talk with them briefly. They watched the first 20-30 minutes of practice. He (Coach Reeve) seemed pretty high on me. Then after practice, he messaged me to call him. He said that I was his guy. He said that I’ll be able to step right in and contribute right away and fill David Morgan’s shoes. They see me as a versatile player, either with my hand down or out wide or even in the backfield. Then they offered me a scholarship.”
What did it feel like getting the offer?
It’s really a blessing, honestly. I’ve dreamed about it since I was a kid. Even though I didn’t play football until my senior year of high school, I’ve always been a crazy, avid football fan. So it’s just a blessing. This is God’s goodness. I had gotten injured not too long ago, I was battling through that five days before our first game. I had a knee injury (dislocated patella) and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play at all this season. I recovered at a miraculous rate and got some opportunities to make some plays and re-gain my starting job. I put together a few good games and he (Coach Reeve) saw me play on film. We’ve been talking for the last three weeks. He came to practice and believed in me to offer me a scholarship. It’s a dream come true. I really like what UTSA does, I like the way they use David Morgan. I think it’s a great fit. I heard a lot of good things about San Antonio. I’m just overall ecstatic about the offer and extremely blessed to have received it.”
What kind of football player are you?
“I’m 6-5/235lbs. I have a pretty lean build. Most people when they see me they don’t think I’m as heavy as I am because most of the weight is in my legs. I like to play in the slot and contribute in the passing game but I’m not afraid to get my hand in the dirt and get dirty. I feel like my knowledge of the game is what separates me from the guys I compete with. I play with a passion and I play for an audience of one. I don’t play for the crowd, I play for Christ.”
Why were you under-recruited out of high school?
“I started playing my senior year. I only started playing because I was a baseball guy and I was having some arm troubles. I was a pitcher and they shut me down. The way things were going, I was suppose to get drafted in the middle to late rounds. Long story short, I either had to get a part-time job or play football. I was always a long-time fan of football. I wasn’t happy about it because I was a baseball guy. But I ended up playing and I earned the starting job right off the bat because of my athleticism and knowledge of the game. We ran the wing-t, we didn’t pass it a lot. It wasn’t a great fit, I think I caught about 20 balls. It was an okay experience. But later in the year I started getting some offers to some 1AA’s and D2’s but it didn’t really pick up for me. I was raw. So I ended up going late to Georgia State. They brought in a new coaching staff and I left to go Juco. In 2014 I went to Mesa Community College in Arizona. I played there in the spring. I had a really good spring but in game 2 I had a sports hernia in my hip and I had to have season-ending surgery. I got blessed with medical hardship waiver. That gave me another opportunity so I chose Ventura.”
What were you like as a baseball player?
“I was a righty. I threw low 90’s, high 80’s. I was just crafty righty. When you’re throwing 88, you project high. I just got over-worked and over used. I just started having some trouble. But by the grace of God I got on that football field with a helmet and just fell in love with a whole different thing. My story is crazy, I will say that.”
What are you looking for in school, what’s a good fit for you?
“Somewhere I’ll enjoy living. Somewhere that wants to make me a big part of what they’re doing, as far as getting the ball and being a focal point in the offense. Even just having the opportunity to play right away. An area where I’d like to live, an opportunity to play right away, and an offense that loves to use a tight end; those are my three main things. But also I’d like to have a coach that is a man of faith. I’m a strong Christian. I’d like to have a coaching staff I like to be around.”
How do you think UTSA fits what you’re looking for?
“I think it’s an amazing fit, I really do. I’ve gotten to know Coach Reeve really well over the last three weeks. Not only is he a good guy but he’s a great coach. Coach Coker has coached Kellen Winslow, Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey and some other pro-bowlers I can name from Miami. He has a great rapport with all of his players. He’s known to be a guy to get things done and win some games. I think the coaching staff is a great fit for me but I think the offense is an even better fit.”
What’s your timetable for making a decision?
“I really like what they have going on at UTSA? Even though their record doesn’t show it now, I think they’re very young and have a lot of talent. It’s only up from here. I’m not in the game of sitting around and waiting for someone that might not come. I’m going to talk with my parents about it more and do a little research. Hopefully I’ll commit in the next three weeks or so.”
UTSA is Blake-Smith’s first offer. Other programs showing him include: South Alabama, Iowa State, San Jose State, Arizona, and San Diego State.
So far this season Blake-Smith has 10 catches for just over 100 yards. He is scheduled to graduate in December and will be an early transfer. He has two years left of eligibility.