The turnaround of the Mauldin Mavericks football program starts with head coach Doug Shaw but he's helped changed the whole attitude surrounding the program with the help of young prospects during his tenure there. Guys like 2011 LB Carson Smith are also a big part of the building of the program. Smith is starting to draw plenty of interest from a number of schools throughout the ACC and SEC and he's also the next player to be featured in our "UP NEXT" series.
For the past two seasons Carson Smith has been the anchor for the Maverick defense as he's posted 140+ tackles in back to back seasons. In finishing his junior season he shared with us his final stats.
"I had 116 solo tackles, 46 assisted tackles, 48 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, 1 interception, 3 caused fumbles, and 2 recovered fumbles (1 for a touchdown) this season."
That stellar play has piqued the interest of quite a few schools early on in the process apparently too.
From that group a trio of schools have been showing Smith the most love early on in his recruitment. He's also got a pair that he favors at this juncture so far.
"Right now South Carolina, North Carolina State, and Vanderbilt are recruiting me the most. I receive mail from NC State and Carolina almost everyday and I have visited all three schools too. I'd say right now that NC State and South Carolina are my early favorites."
Smith talked at length about what he liked about each of those three programs as well.
NC State: They had a great campus and I really like the coaching staff there.
South Carolina: The atmosphere is great, and a linebacker like Eric Norwood coming out of there really tells a lot about their staff. Also, Carolina's recent improvement in their engineering program sparked my interest, as that is what I want to do later on, and their graduation rate is great.
Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt was awesome too, their campus was amazing and the education at Vandy is great.
We switched gears for a moment and asked Carson to talk about the positive change that the Mauldin football program has been experiencing under coach Doug Shaw and his staff. The Mavericks enjoyed one of their most successful seasons ever and when asked how the winning attitude has made things feel for him personally he responded in great detail.
"It felt great! Mauldin hasn't really been seen as a strong team in the state, but this past year everyone on the team worked really hard in the weight room and the offseason. As soon as Coach Shaw came to Mauldin he has been trying to change the attitude of the team, and we as a team succeeded this year. He invited me and four other players do a leadership "class" with him after school once a week and I think it really helped. When the season came around we had definite leaders to take charge and push the younger kids which we have never had before."
The Mavericks, playing in Region II-AAAA, face arguably the toughest opponents in the state when it comes to region play. That tough schedule brings with it some pretty tough hombres across the line for Smith. He talked about some of the toughest opponents he's faced in his career so far.
"I have faced many tough players this year alone. My toughest would have to be Marcus Lattimore from Byrnes. He's the number one running back in the nation, and he deserves it. You have to play perfect against him, he can get from his position to full speed in two steps and he can see the entire field allowing him to make great cuts. I have also faced Nick Jones and Jazz King, both receivers for Byrnes. They are very agile and speedy players. In the open field they are very hard to take down. Dylan Thompson for Boiling Springs was a great opponent. As a quarterback he had a great arm and could find holes in a zone quickly. Martavis Bryant from T.L. Hanna was another great player, as he was very quick and an overall great receiver."
Smith obviously has enjoyed tons of success on the field but one game in particular stands out to him as his most memorable and he shared that battle with us.
My best game was our game against Laurens High. I just missed the school record of 22 tackles in a game with only 21. I ended the game with 14 solo tackles, 5 assists, 2 sacks, and 4 tackles for a loss. That game was very memorable because of our meeting the previous year in which we lost 34-33, so being able to come back this year and show them the real Mauldin team was great."
That leadership shined brightly as Smith once again lead the team on the defensive side of the ball. He shared with us his own thoughts as to why he's been such a success on the gridiron to this point.
"I think my strongest aspect is my reading ability and agility. I have decent size and speed, but my ability to read the play and get to the ball quickly are my strongest points."
The offseason workouts have already started for Smith in an effort to become even better overall.
"This offseason I'm going to be working the most on my size, speed, and explosiveness. Right now I have decent speed but I would really like to drop my 40 time a bit. Also, I want to improve my explosiveness. This year I really focused on my hitting ability, but next year I don't want to hit anymore, I want to explode into people. I want to make people not want to get back up after I hit them."
Looking ahead to the future Smith talked about his goals for next season. "Next year I want to continue learning the game first off to be a smarter player, but I want to continue getting better statistically. I want to break my own school records again and break other records. I would love to be named all region and hopefully All–State. Also, I would love to be picked to play in the Shrine Bowl or North-South Game. I'm going to work so that there is no doubt that I'm the best."
Smith is uncerain of which camps he'll hit this offseason but says he'd like to attend the Nike, Scout, and Under Armour camps as well as some other one on one camps.
He also shared with us his biggest factors when looking at potential schools.
"Location is a pretty big factor, I don't want to end up too far away from family. Education is one of the biggest factors, education means a lot to me and I want to go somewhere that I can get a good degree so that if football runs out, I have something to fall back on. Early playing time also is important, I don't want to be on a great team, but only get to play my senior year. I love football and I want to play as soon as possible. Those are most of the main factors I'm looking at, coaching staff and conference strength are all important too but the others come first."
SCPrepNation.com will continue to keep you up to date with the very latest regarding Carson Smith's recruitment so keep it dialed in right here. We expect more big things out of the 2011 prospect and a good offseason should land him some scholarship offers before too long once his junior film starts to circulate.
Stay tuned for video highlights of Smith in action as well.
Inside the Numbers...CARSON SMITH
- Bench press: 285 pounds
- Squat: 500 pounds
- Fastest 40 time: 4.8 seconds
- Vertical: 33.5"
- 2007 Region 2-AAAA Strength Champion
Smith is also a standout in the classroom as he's a member of the National Honor Society, the Beta Club, and the SCHSL Leadership Council.