Smiley still likes the Dawgs

Sometimes when teenagers move, they want a fresh start and to forget about where they came from. However, Central High (West Helena, Ar.) DL Eric Smiley doesn't fit in that category. He moved to Arkansas during the summer of 2007, but he still remembers where his roots are and the team he grew up watching has made it known they like the big man from SEC country.

"Oh I could never forget Seattle and U-Dub," Smiley told recently. "I went to Garfield so a lot of my friends were there and my cousin is Deandre Coleman and he just got offered by them.

"I grew up watching the Huskies and rooting for them so they have a special place in my heart."

Actually, Smiley likes almost everything about the northwest, but he needed to get away and decided living with his grandparents was the best move to get a fresh start.

"Most of my family is still up there," Smiley said. "I just needed to get away and start fresh and concentrate on the things I needed to concentrate on.

"Down here it's school and family and football and I'm really having a lot of fun with where things are right now."

After a standout junior campaign, his first year of football, that saw him amass 73 tackles, 14 sacks, and had 29 quarterback hurries, Smiley already has the attention of schools from the south as well as out west.

"USC actually called my coach and said they wanted to offer me a scholarship," Smiley said. "That was big for me, because they are a great program and they always produce a lot of talent and get guys drafted. It was weird because I hadn't really heard that much from them and then all of the sudden they called my coaches and told them they wanted to offer me.

"Mississippi, Arkansas and Arkansas State have all offered me as well and I'm getting letters from everyone -- Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State -- I mean, you name the school and I'm hearing from them or my coaches have."

Since Smiley is so new to the gridiron, he got by on sheer athletic ability in 2007, but this coming season he plans to surprise some people with his technique.

"I've been working really hard on my strength and my technique," Smiley said. "I have a long way to go in that respect and I know that. I know I can't get away with my athleticism alone so it's about working hard on the things that will help me improve and that's getting stronger, my hand placement, staying low and working on some moves."

Smiley will be in Seattle for spring break in March and plans to sit down with the Husky coaching staff while he's in the Emerald City.

"I just want to talk to them and see how interested they are," Smiley said. "I want them to know that I'm interested in them as well and that I hope they recruit me and like what I have to offer."

Smiley said he's unsure if he'll visit any schools over the summer, but he did not it was a possibility. He also said he currently has no plans to attend any camps, but that he's open to that as well.

We'll continue to follow Smiley's progress through the May evaluation period and update things as they change.

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