Every year it happens. A player flies below the radar and busts their chops all offseason to try and land that first elusive scholarship offer. This year Carson Smith is one of the guys going through just that scenario. At 6'2 220 pounds and ranking as the strongest player in the 215-220 weight class along with 2010 all-world RB Marcus Lattimore, Smith has been a man on a mission. We caught up with Smith for an update on the very latest.
A camp and combine warrior thus far, Smith talked at length about his experiences at a couple of his most recent stops.
"Well, a couple weeks ago I attended the Scout MVP camp and the VTO camp and then two Sundays ago I participated in the National Underclassman Combine in Charlotte."
"The MVP camp was a great camp where I learned a good bit from the coach, Coach White. We did a lot of stuff regarding the hips, and its improved my flexibility a good bit. I ended up coming in second there, while still making the All-Scout team, behind Armarlo Herrera the number 12 linebacker in the nation and the coaches said it was a toss up so that was very good for me."
"Then at the VTO camp there was some great competition, I once again ended up in second behind a linebacker from Ohio, but it was a good learning experience. Lastly, at the NUC I ended up as the "Combine King" and was invited to the Top 100 camp. I ended up with two overall bests there with a 4.15 shuttle under two clocks, and a 9' 10" broad jump, so I had a very good day at the NUC too."
Having participated in so many top camps we asked Smith just which one provided the toughest competition and where he thought learned the most at.
"I'd probably say the VTO camp had the best competition there, especially the tight ends. I feel like I learned the most from the MVP camp because we spent so much time doing drills with the coaches."
Having performed so well at those camps has been the best of both worlds in a sense for Smith.
"Yeah it's boosted my confidence a bit, however, the fact that I haven't been a pronounced winner at either camp has been a very humbling experience. I feel that God has done this to keep me humble, and keep me hungry and working hard trying to get to that next level."
Smith's been active in going to camps in order to compete against some of the southeast's best and he's fared extremely well. Things started off the same way for Smith in terms of recruiting but it's started to pick up steam as of late.
"Yes, I came into the recruiting process a little late, so it's been tough. I have had to be very pro-active so far in this process to get tape out, to reach out to schools first, and so far I've made good contact with a number of schools."
Smith, in fact, has been on a couple of visits already into the process. He talked about one of his most recent trips.
"I made my way up to East Carolina last Saturday with Taylor Hudson who signed with them not long ago, and they seemed to really like me. I was given a lot of attention from Kirkpatrick my recruiting coach and Coach Wiley the linebacker coach. They had never actually seen my tape just combine info, but they spoke as if something could be close."
"I've also visited Duke recently, and the blunt attitude of their coaches really impressed me. They were straight up with you and told you how it was. One thing that Coach Jones told me that stood out was how he couldn't promise me he would always be their as a coach, but with the new coaching staff, he has put two and a half years into building that program up and he wouldn't leave it for just anything. I liked how much pride he took into the program. Also, their education is great and their campus is beautiful."
Having waited quite some time to start getting some strong consideration from a number of schools would the school that offered Smith first get some special consideration?
"Definitely, a lot of recruiting processes snowball from that first offer, but if a school is going to take their time to look at me and offer because they like me and not just to stay in the race, I'll definitely show them extra consideration."
Smith is a beast on the field and in the classroom and he studies both areas intently. He attributes his ability to read plays so well on the field to both film study and natural instincts.
"I think it's a bit of both, my natural instincts help me react very quickly on a field, but film studies help me to recognize tendencies in a team and therefore allow my reads to be quicker."
Smith's strength is on another level and he says he lifts weights everyday during seventh period at school and again after school for another hour with good friend Ryan Norton.
That strength landed him the tie with Byrnes RB Marcus Lattimore at this year's State Strength Meet. Smith talked about the feat of being one of the strongest not only in the state but in the whole southeast region.
"It's great! I mean I would've loved to solely have gotten first place, but tying with the number one running back in the nation was great. It's also a great feeling to know that I'm one of the strongest guys in the southeast, it's a great confidence booster, and I'm just really excited to incorporate this newfound strength to my position."
Smith's been a workout warrior and continues to push himself to new heights by doing so. He talked at length about some of his most drastic improvements.
"One of the biggest improvements has been my speed, I've gone from running a 4.9 at the end of last season to a 4.68, and I'm still working on that. Another improvement is my lateral movement, just recently at NUC i ran a 4.15 shuttle time, so my ability to change direction has improved tremendously since the season. Lastly, my hands have gotten a lot better, being able to engage and disengage running backs and offensive lineman quickly was one of my weaker points last year, but the camps and training at school has changed that drastically."
Breaking News: Since our interview Smith informed us that both ECU and Duke want to see him perform in coverage situations but that if they like what they see offers very well could be soon to follow. Smith's Mauldin defense last year didn't put him into too many coverage situations so he's going to continue to hit as many one day camps and one on one camps as he can to secure that film and evaluations. Stay tuned as Smith appears set to land his first offer in the very near future.