St. Pius defensive back Geno Smith committed to Alabama over archrival Auburn on Wednesday
Why type of player is Alabama getting? St. Pius coach Paul Standard told the AJC a talented football player, good student, and more. “He has been raised by his mother who has done an outstanding job in leading him. To me there is not the ‘great-player-but-what-if’ factor. There’s not the ‘what if he’s not going to class? There’s not the ‘what if he can’t stay out of trouble?’ They are getting someone who is a great person and individual … As far as football, I think Geno is a guy who can make a huge impact, in terms of his competitiveness.”
Smith became one of the nation’s most-heavily recruited college prospects with around 40 offers after solid performances against an all-star cast of wide receivers.
During his sophomore and junior years at the Atlanta private school, Smith was matched up against Gainesville’s Tailer Jones (signed with Notre Dame), Grady’s Damian Swann (Georgia), Greater Atlanta Christian’s Julian Horton (Arkansas), and Booker T. Washington’s Antonio Goodwin (Auburn), among others. Smith committed on Wednsesday, before the start of his senior season at St. Pius.
“He got all the offers because he’s so fast and has so much tremendous athletic ability,” Standard said. “When he went to one of those college camps after his sophomore year, he performed so well with the way he could cover people, and recover.
“He has the ability, if he was to get beat, he has the recovery speed that I haven’t seen in too many other people in my 27 years of coaching. We haven’t had too many come through St. Pius like him.”
Standard likes to tell all the college scouts about a play against North Hall last year. Smith was guarding wide receiver CJ Curry, who has since transferred to Flowery Branch for his senior year. Curry has also committed early, choosing UGA before switching last week to Oklahoma State.
“He got beat on a run fake, that Curry kid got behind him,” Standard recalled. “I said on my headphones ‘That’s a touchdown.’ I would be darned if Geno Smith didn’t turn and run, like it was no effort at all. He made up the ground he had gotten beat on and batted the ball away. He probably could’ve picked the ball off if he had wanted to. You know, he’s just that kind of guy.”
After Smith proved repeatedly that he could compete against top competition, his mailbox was flooded with early college scholarship offers. He wasn’t sure how to take the instant fame in recruiting circles.
“Once my recruiting really started picking up in the middle of the summer going into my junior year, I didn’t know what think of everything; I just took it day by day,” Smith said.
“It wasn’t overwhelming, though. All the attention from colleges was a great blessing that I received. This is what I dreamed about growing up, so I couldn’t deny it. I was happy to have the experience of being recruited.”
After a fast and furious start, Smith’s recruiting slowed down tremendously over the last few months. After attending a camp in April, Smith has maintained an unusually low profile, passing on numerous all-star combines and college camps in order to prepare for his senior season.
“It’s just that I wanted to enjoy my last year with my high school team and teammates, and get the most out of it,” Smith said. “I know this is going to be a special year for our team, so I wanted to stay 100 percent into it.”
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Smith will play both ways again for St. Pius, starting at tailback on offense and at a new position on defense. He was switched from cornerback to safety.
“We’ve got him at safety because he tackles so well,” Standard said. “Not only is he a cover guy, he has the ability to make tackles. He’ll be a cornerback in college, but he’s a safety for us. He’s the last man standing between the other team and our end zone. He’s the guy I want back there, I can tell you that.”
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