A Q & A WITH TERRANCE SMITH:
Terrance Smith was just 4 years old when his father’s life came to a violent end. Terry Smith was shot by Atlanta police officers in 1997 in a domestic dispute with his estranged wife, Angela Smith, Terrance’s mother. Angela Smith was stabbed and critically injured in that altercation and Terrance’s 2-year-old sister was hurt by police gunfire. Terrance escaped unharmed, or so the police report said.
Today, that incident is mostly a blurry memory that Terrance has done his best to forget. Besides, there is much about which to be happy. Terrance, a rising senior at Southwest DeKalb High School, went on to grow up in a joyful, nurturing home. An ‘A’ student, he also has developed into one of the top college prospects in Atlanta. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound outside linebacker already has accepted a scholarship to Florida State. Meanwhile, major college football programs continue to come after him. Leading the way in that pursuit is Clemson, the school of which his mother and late father are alums. Terry Smith was a wide receiver at Clemson who graduated as the school’s all-time leader in catches (162) and in receiving yardage (2,681) before going on to a brief NFL career.
I visited with Terrance this week to talk about his recruitment and about how that incident 14 years ago may or may not have affected it. Following is the Q&A.
Q: So you’ve been an FSU commitment for more than two months now. Did everything get quiet on the recruiting front after that?
A: “It definitely didn’t get quieter. I think it may schools come a little harder because I’ve gotten offers since then. I got an offer from USC just recently. That’s the last one I know about anyway. So they’re still coming hard. Me being committed hasn’t really stopped any of the schools who were already recruiting me.”
Q: Didn’t Southern Cal bring up the NCAA investigation? The infractions committee is supposed to reveal the sanctions today?
A: “They haven’t talked much about all that.”
Q: Do you care if they got a couple of years probation or a bowl ban or something? Would that matter?
A: “Well, I mean, yeah, it would. Not being able to play in a bowl game is not something I’m trying to do right now. So it might be a problem.”
Q: So how many scholarship offers are you holding?
A: “I don’t know. I kind of stopped keeping track. Basically it’s all ACC, all SEC, Ohio State and Souothern Cal.”
Q: What has been going with Florida State since you committed back in late March?
A: “The relationship between me and the Florida State coaches is solid. I talk to them every week. I talk to Coach Fisher and Coach Craig and my position coach. So it’s a solid relationship. They talk to me about all these schools coming at me. They say stay focused on Florida State.”
Q: You were like the 11th commitment for the Seminoles and I think they had only 12 or so to give this year? How’s the rest of their recruiting going?
A: “After my commitment they kind of slowed down on recruiting. They’re still recruiting but I think they’re just concentrating on the last one or two spots. But our class is pretty much done.”
Q: Has Tech or Georgia given up on you?
A: “Oh no. I talked to Georgia coaches and Georgia Tech coaches pretty often. I don’t know, I really like Tech and Georgia. It’s just the fact that I really want to kind of get away from Georgia, go somewhere else.
Q: What about Clemson? Obviously you have a lot of ties there. Are they still in touch with you?
A: “Oh yeah. I talk to the Clemson coaches a lot. I talk to coach Long once a week. I have a relative who coaches at Clemson [strength and conditioning coach Larry Greenlee] so I have a lot of conversations with him. I have every tie that I need at Clemson and they preach that to me every time I talk to the them. They say I’ll be looked out for down there. I know I would. But I kind of wanted to go somewhere and start my own legacy rather than come in on my dads footsteps.”
Q: Do you think you’ve subconsciously steered away from Clemson just because of the tragedy you endured as a young child?
A: “No, I’m not trying to avoid any memories or anything like that. It’s just that I want to basically go to a place where I can be my own man and not have to really worry about what people have done before me.”
Q: You were just 4 years old at the time. Do you have any memory of that one particular incident?
A: “Very few. I don’t recall too much about it.”
Q: But that’s not something that make you look at Clemson in a negative light, right?
A: “Not at all.”
Q: What’s your plans for this summer?
A: “The first thing coming up is this 360 Sports Academy thing. They basically are going to get us down there and put us through a program working with NFL coaches and players. It’s a development camp. So I’m going to go to that the 6th through the 11th. I’m going to go to a Florida State camp and I’m going to try to make an Alabama camp. If I can make it I’m going to try to go to Ohio State’s camp maybe. And, of course, Georgia’s 45 minutes down the road. So I’ll probably go through there.”
Q: Has Georgia hit you up with its Dream Team theme?
A: “Oh yeah, they did. They told me I should come be part of their Dream Team. Actually, that wpould be comething special. If every elite player from Georgia actually goes to the University of Georgia, then they’d have a chance to win the national championship. Absolutely.”