There's a steady stream of talent coming out of Union County High School and the Yellow Jackets have a player in the 2013 recruiting cycle that we've watched all this past season. We caught up with sophomore sensation QB Keiston Smith and UCHS assistant coach Cedrick Jeter as Smith is the latest player to be featured in our "UP NEXT" series.
Last season Keiston Smith emerged on our radar early on and the 6'2 215 pound prospect looked nothing like a sophomore the majority of the time we saw him in action. Smith passed for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns and also rushed for over 500 yards and 8 more touchdowns on the ground. While we have gone over his highlight tape over and over again Smith's game under center resembles a striking similarity to a current NFL quarterback. Those sentiments were shared by Union County High assistant coach Cedrick Jeter as well. We spoke with Jeter about the 2013 prospect.
"I hate to compare high school players to college or professional players, but Keiston plays a lot like a Donovan McNabb. They both have strong arms, a knack for making plays, the mobility to make plays when things break down and they are both winners," Jeter said.
We asked coach Jeter about where he feels Smith's strengths are currently and what areas of his game he'd like to see Smith continue to work on over the course of his next two seasons.
"His biggest strengths, are his leadership ability and confidence. He has a really strong arm and he can make all the throws but the kid is just a winner, he has been winning all his life and I don't expect that to stop now."
"We would like to see his 3 step game improve as he grows as a quarterback, and fundamentals."
College coaches came through a great deal last year checking out 2011 DE Desmond Floyd but plenty of them took a long look at the sophomore quarterback too.
"While coaches were coming to see Desmond they thought Keiston looked like a linebacker, they have not came by to see him yet. Once they look at the film, they will see that he is most definitely a quarterback."
So we finally caught up with Smith and he talked about how he felt his sophomore season went down overall.
"I had a pretty good season this year and I'm proud of that, but there were some games where I didn't come through when my team needed me so I'm not completely satisfied," Smith said.
Smith shared the sentiments of his assistant coach when it came to assessing his strengths right now and what he plans on working on this offseason to improve his stock.
"I feel as if my strong arm and my ability to run the ball are my biggest strengths as of now. This off season I will be working on my speed, my accuracy, and also my quickness."
Smith had a strong season and he told us what game in particular he felt was his very best.
"I would have to say my best game was versus Clinton High in the region championship game. I threw for almost 300 yards and ran for about 120 with 5 total touchdowns."
Smith faced a ton of talented teams and players last year but one team in particular made a strong impression on him as the toughest.
"I can't pick out a certain player but I must say facing the Gaffney Indians was the toughest team I played because of their speed and strength."
It's still early in the recruiting process and Smith's sophomore film will start rolling out soon but a trio of schools have already showed early interest.
One of Smith's favorite targets this season was fellow 2013 prospect WR Victor Ruth. The duo poses as a huge threat offensively for the Yellow Jackets over the next two seasons and they have already created a chemistry that is easy to see. Ruth averaged over 25 yards per catch this season and Smith is glad to have his close friend on his squad.
"I must say it does feel nice watching him catch it and run because you know he is going to score and he also helps your own stats out. He is like a brother to me."
Although coach Jeter and I see a lot of Donovan McNabb in him Smith says he doesn't pattern his game after anyone else's because he wants to be like no other. The 2013 signal caller also talked about what his goals are for next season as a junior with his teammates.
"I would like to go undefeated at home and win our 3rd straight region championship. We want to go further in the playoffs in reaching our ultimate goal of winning a state championship."
SCPrepNation.com will continue to follow the recruitment and progress of Keiston Smith over the next two seasons so keep it locked right here as we're the ultimate source for the inside scoop regarding South Carolina's top prospects.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS...KEISTON SMITH
Bench press: 265 pounds
Squat: 415 pounds
Power clean: 225 pounds
Fastest 40 time: 4.79 seconds
A CLOSER LOOK...KEISTON SMITH
Favorite food: chicken
Favorite movie: ATL
Favorite actor: Denzel Washington
Favorite subject in school: Math
Favorite thing to do when not playing football: chill with my boys
If you could meet any 2 people in the world who would you choose? Kim Kardashian and Michael Vick