Cali Wideout Smith Holding At Three Finalists

Continuing the focus on out-of-state wide receiver prospects, IT recently spoke with the state of California's second-best wideout, <B>Steve Smith</b>.

Steve Smith currently favors Tennessee, Texas and Southern Cal, maintaining none of the three have the upper hand for his commitment.

With the playoffs looming and Smith's team expected to make a deep run, the 4-star blue-chipper will concentrate on making his decision after the football season is finished, possibly dragging it out to the final few weeks, even days, before National Signing Day.

The 6-1, 185-pound, senior from Woodland Hills, California recently visited the Volunteer's football program and had some nice things to say about the trip.

"It was just a different atmosphere," said Smith. "And it was exciting to see how important football is down there. And I got to see some big-time players, like Gale Sayers and Travis Stephens because it was homecoming weekend."

Although Smith has yet to officially visit USC, he made a trip to the Forty Acres the first weekend in October and was impressed with the atmosphere Texas Football offers as well.

"Texas was really nice," said TheInsiders' nationally ninth-rated wide receiver prospect. "And the atmosphere was different there too -- it's something I'm not used to. Both Tennessee and Texas have so many more people interested in football and I like that."

The highly regarded prospect from Taft High School runs a 4.4 forty, bench-presses 230 pounds and squats a little over 300 pounds. And if he's able to meet or succeed his potential on the next level, he should compare favorably to NFL wide receivers Jimmy Smith of the Jaguars, Jabar Gaffney of the Texans and Donte Stallworth of the Saints. And that alone is reason enough for Duane Akina of Texas and Tennessee's defensive backs coach to continue seeking Smith's verbal.

"Coach Akina is real cool, real nice and everything," said Smith. "He was also one of the first coaches to recruit me and I liked that and everything. Coach Slade (Tennessee DB coach) is also real nice, you know, and seems like he's up front with me. He also said that I'll have an opportunity to play early and I like that."

Also, Smith received some ear-time with Phillip Fulmer and Mack Brown.

"Coach Fulmer was very straight-up with me," he said. "He seems like he's real caring and very involved with his players and I like that. Mack Brown is real nice and straight-forward and very honest too. He told me to be honest with him and let them know exactly where I stand and he would continue to do the same for me. And he also told me I was going to have to work really hard for playing time next year."

As for the buzz Smith's father created, saying Smith is slightly leaning to USC, Smith said, "I like USC a lot, but I see opportunities at other schools as good, if not better than at USC."

Asked what his strengths and weaknesses are, Smith said: "My strengths are my ability to make ‘big plays', get the first down in 3rd-down situations and my knack for finding and getting to the ball. My weaknesses or something I need to concentrate on is blocking in the running game."

Currently, Smith has 49 receptions, 800 yards, and nine TD's. He's even thrown a couple of passes with one of those going for a TD. Taft's record is 9-0 as it enters the final game of the regular-season with a chance to stay unbeaten. If Taft remains undefeated through the playoffs, it would close the season 14-0 and celebrate back-to-back championship-seasons.

Stacey Dean covered recruiting in the state of Texas for Horns Illustrated before joining Inside Texas. His prospect updates will appear frequently on

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