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Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Smith soaks in spotlight, stays grounded

By Brad Bournival

It all happened on an unassuming September day for ESPN 300 safety Erick Smith (Cleveland/Glenville).

A shy safety out of a football factory, Smith picked up his first offer -- a big one -- from Georgia Tech.

The rest, as they say, is history; 10 months later, Smith is one of the hottest commodities on the recruiting trail.

Beside the Yellow Jackets, he now counts offers from Alabama, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee and West Virginia, and the number continues to rise.

He’s the 227th-ranked player in the ESPN 300, the 14th-best safety and the No. 6 senior in Ohio.

Not bad for someone who played in the shadows of Ohio State signee Christopher Worley and ESPN 300 standout Marshon Lattimore last season.

“I’m just taking it day by day,” Smith said. “I’m not rushing it because then it gets overwhelming. I’m young, but I’m not trying to let it take me out of things.”

That’s becoming increasingly harder to do as Nick Saban talked shop with him during a camp at Alabama last week.

This week, he’s headed to Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp, at which he’s one of the headliners at an event loaded with talent.

Every day he’s got someone pulling at his coattails, yet the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Smith is able to take it all in stride.

“Growing up, I always had dreams of playing football,” Smith said. “Now that it’s here, it’s like I want more.

“I won’t settle for anything. I don’t have the right to have a big head because I haven’t done anything.”

It’s a motto he, Lattimore and Ohio State offensive tackle commit Marcelys Jones are sticking to. All three are being recruited heavily. They all make sure everyone is on the same page and if there’s a struggle, someone is always there with the safety net.

“[Smith] is like my little brother,” Jones said. “I love that dude. I just try to give him advice with what’s going on. Whatever he needs, I let him know I’m there.”

His game is helped by Lattimore, who plays cornerback for the Tarblooders.

Whenever they’re at a camp, they’re usually doing the same drills, so that’s an added bonus.

“They’re my guys,” Smith said about Lattimore and Jones. “We all piggyback off each other. It’s kind of like how we look at the rest of the team.

“We don’t look at each other as superstars because we aren’t. We’re all equal to each one of our teammates.”

Speaking of teammates, Smith and his teammates are ready to put recruiting behind them for a little while. Glenville’s season kicks off Aug. 31 against Division I power Lakewood St. Edward, and the Tarblooders are ready to exact a little revenge after a 42-14 loss to start the 2012 season.

“I feel like I can become more of a leader and eventually lead my team to a championship,” Smith said. “Whether we go 15-0 or not, we’re going to get to 15 games.”