With the Shrine Bowl less than a month away we continue to interview and bring you updates with as many South Carolina team members as possible. We sat down with Mauldin LB Carson Smith to get the very latest as the latest installment in this series leading up to the game at Wofford next month.
The 6'2 220 pound Smith has been absolutely relentless and consistently great during his career. That's why when we heard that he'd made this year's South Carolina Shrine Bowl team we weren't surprised one bit. Figure in that he's averaged over 140 plus tackles the past 3 seasons and it's no wonder why he's primed to make his mark in the Carolinas All-Star game.
"I was very excited and very honored to be apart of something like this. It was great to see all the hard work finally pay off. Now I just need to work hard and play my game and show everyone I can compete with the best. Making the Shrine Bowl team has always been one of those goals driving me to be better.," Smith told us.
While the game gets the most publicity often times the practices are where you'll find some of the fiercest competition among the state's best players. Smith says he's looking forward to the week of practices.
"We have a bunch of great athletes on our team this year so I'm looking forward to getting better by competing with a bunch of them like Shon Carson, and the rest of our linebacking corps."
Smith's mentality won't really change when he steps out on the field for the game compared to any game he's lined up for his Mauldin Mavericks. He's looking forward to hanging out with a few of his linebacker friends that will be there with him as well.
Having been such a stalwart for the Mavericks the past 3 seasons Smith talked about what aspects of his game improved the most since the end of his junior season.
"I think my speed, and my ability to engage and disengage lineman has really improved, especially with the 4-1 defense we ran I needed to learn how to get the lineman off me."
Smith only holds one offer from Presbyterian thus far and some coaches have been teetering possibly due to a 4.6 40 yard dash time. Having been such a productive player for 3 seasons against the likes of Dorman, Byrnes, and other top AAAA teams in the state Smith is hopeful that coaches will see beyond just a 40 time and at other measurables and statistics to go along with the fact that he's been the top tackler in AAAA for much of the past few seasons and just gotten one offer so far.
"I hope so, school-to-school has told me that's what my downfall is, yet, I run a 4.6. Hopefully, my lateral speed and performance in the Shrine Bowl will help that opinion."
Smith prior to the season ran highly impressive pro shuttle times of 4.15 seconds at Schuman's National Underclassmen Combine, 4.19 seconds at the Shrine Bowl combine, and 4.00 seconds on two watches at the North Carolina State camp. Smith earned Combine King at the NUC event in North Carolina for his overall performance. That lateral movement has been one of the keys to his success on the field to go along with his ability to read plays.
He also registered a 9'10" broad jump at the NUC and a 35.5 inch vertical while at the VTO combine in North Carolina. Couple those measurables along with the fact that he tied current South Carolina star RB Marcus Lattimore in the 210 pound weight class in last year's state strength meet and appears to be the favorite heading towards the event again this year and it's easy to see that Smith is a workout warrior.
Last year Smith blitzed quite a bit but this year he was asked to stay at home mostly and drop back into coverage when needed. The proof? 173 tackles, 120 unassisted, 35 tackles for loss, 6 caused fumbles, 19 passes broken up, 1 interception, and 2 blocked kicks this year as a senior. Smith broke his own school record for tackles and unassisted tackles. Those numbers still have plenty of prospective colleges showing strong interest as of late he says.
"I visited Appalachian State recently, and I really like their team. Coach Jones is a great linebacker coach and backers like D.J. Smith coming out of that program really says good things about it. Also, Air Force told me they would be visiting the school soon to come see me. Other than that Stanford, Texas A&M, and Clemson are still in the mix."
Since the conclusion of this interview Smith informed us that the Ohio State Buckeyes have made calls showing interest as well. His tough hard nosed style of play definitely fits the mold of what the Buckeyes like in their linebackers over the years. Smith says once he gets his senior season highlights finished that he'll be mailing his film out to colleges all over the country in order to see how many other offers he may possibly land before making a decision.
With the Shrine Bowl less than a month away Smith talked about what he feels will be necessary to help the team come away with a victory this year.
"With the roster North Carolina has, their strength is going to be the pass. So we're going to need good coverage and our linebackers will have to be quick and versatile to get from run priority back deep into coverage."
Stay tuned to SCPrepNation.com and the Scout.com team for more updates on Carson Smith and other members of this year's Shrine Bowl squad.