Almost every year, Gardena (Calif.) Serra produces a number of top-tier prospects and USC is usually one of the top beneficiaries.
The Serra-to-SC train has been rolling since Robert Woods became the first Serra five-star to sign with the Trojans in 2010. Since then, USC has brought in 14 Serra players, including the top player in all five years the Cavaliers have had at least a four-star caliber player.
The 2017 class was not one of those five classes, but USC is right back in the mix with the Class of 2018 Cavaliers that feature a trio of four-star players currently. Six-foot-two, 169-pound Kobe Smith is one of those. Listed as an athlete, Smith is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Serra wideouts Marqise Lee, George Farmer, Paul Richardson and Woods — all who have made it to the NFL.
In order to accomplish the same goals of the receivers before him, including USC Rose Bowl star Deontay Burnett, Smith knows he must continue to improve his game. He is great at controlling his body while in the air, high-pointing the ball like the basketball player he is and coming down with catches in jump ball situations, but this offseason, Smith said he is hard at work.
“Trying to get more explosive, my quickness, speed, releases off the line, hands, everything,” Smith said of what he is trying to improve. “I work out with the track team three days a week. Lot of squats, power cleans. Just trying to up the tempo.”
Smith is also checking out potential collegiate destinations during this offseason. He said he has been hearing from Nebraska, USC and Washington State the most and has a handful of offers, including one from the Trojans.
He recently went to check out the USC campus once more, stopping by Saturday for a spring practice.
“I loved the tempo. I loved all the energy there. All the guys. It was like great competition,” Smith said.
“It's like a family up there because I know so many guys up there right now.”
One of the guys he is very familiar with is offensive coordinator Tee Martin, who is USC’s primary recruiter at Serra. With Martin being the receivers coach, Smith said he paid particular attention to the group that includes some familiar faces for Smith, including former teammate Burnett as well as Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman.
“He just keeps them in line,” Smith said of Martin.
The No. 180 overall prospect in the 2018 class hopes to do the same at Serra this year as he steps into a potential leadership role, something the USC coaches have told him they want to see.
“Last year's [Serra] team, there wasn't really that many leaders out there, so I just want to lead my team. We're a pretty young team, but we have experience too. Most of the guys in my class have been on varsity since sophomore year. I'm just looking to be a captain and be accountable for everybody on my team.”
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