Athlete Alexander Smith plays football at Culver City (CA) High, less than seven miles from UCLA’s campus and less than 10 from USC’s campus. With multiple Pac-12 and Mountain West schools also in close proximity, the 6-0, 175-pound athlete had a number of choices for schools to watch growing up.
He chose to pay close attention to Wisconsin.
“As a kid I’ve always watched them play on television, seeing people come out of there like J.J. Watt, Melvin Gordon, Russell Wilson,” Smith said. “Doing more research in high school and thinking about life after high school, I saw that they had the major that I wanted to major in, which is business real estate. It really got me hooked on.”
The Badgers are now more than a wishful option for Smith. With Wisconsin looking for depth at cornerback and wanting to upgrade their special teams speed, wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore extended Smith a scholarship offer at the end of May.
“It was very big,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised, but I was very excited when I got that call and got to talk with Coach Gilmore. They’re one of my top school. Getting an offer from them was real exciting.”
The feelings are now mutual. In addition to Gilmore, Smith has spoken with defensive coordinator/secondary coach Jim Leonhard, who compliments Smith’s ability to be a playmaker at multiple positions.
Wisconsin likes Smith as a cornerback and a returner, where he had three kickoff and two punt returns for touchdowns last season.
“They really like my tackling ability in the open field and what I can do when the ball is in my hands on punt and kick returns,” Smith said, who also had 64 tackles and an interception his junior year. “(Special teams) is the most important aspect of the game. Yes offense and defense is really important, but you still have to play special teams, too. That’s a great way I can affect the game. I practice hard to be able to do that.”
Army, Boston College, Idaho and Navy are Smith’s other Division-1 offers. He said Oregon and Vanderbilt has also spoken to him a few times.
“This summer I plan on visiting Wisconsin, Boston College and Army,” Smith said, “but I haven’t set the dates up yet.”