Comedian Rodney Dangerfield made the phrase, "I get no respect..." during his hey day. All jokes aside though it seems like 2011 LB Carson Smith is suffering from the same phrase right now. Smith tore up the camp and combine circuit this past offseason. During his sophomore and junior season he led Mauldin's defense with over 140+ tackles each season. Already 4 games into his senior season he leads the state in tackles with 60 stops so far. Yet still Smith holds just one offer currently. So what gives?
Often times some prospects may be in limbo academically in regards to qualifying. That simply isn't the case with the 2011 linebacker. Smith is ranked 17th out of 439 students in his class and sports a 4.67 GPA. He also just scored a 30 on his ACT. He was also named a Newberry and USC Upstate Scholar and is also a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish National Honor Society. So grades obviously aren't holding Smith back.
In terms of size and strength Smith isn't lacking there either. Currently 6'2 and 220 pounds he's got good size for the position as well. Add the fact that he tied with former Byrnes High and current USC Gamecock running back Marcus Lattimore last year in the state strength meet in their respective weight class and there's certainly no lack of strength. In terms of speed Smith improved his times into the 4.6 range this past offseason and obviously as one of the state's leading tacklers the past two seasons there's no doubting his ability to track down the ball. Did we mention the school record Smith set of 550 pounds on the squat?
So we asked Carson simply, did it bother him that he outperformed so many other linebackers this offseason and a lot of them hold multiple offers and he still doesn't?
"Yes sir. It's been very tough for me seeing guys I have competed with and beaten getting offers from schools that turned me down, with no explanation as of why. However, it's one of those things that I have no control over, I just play the game like I know I can and the rest I will leave up to God."
That mentality and playing with a slight chip on his shoulder has boded well in leading the state in tackles through four games so far. Smith shared his mental approach and his pregame rituals. He also talked about the specifics of his statistics so far in 2010.
"I approach each game like its my last, so that I will give it my all on every play. Before every game I have a few small rituals but the biggest is that after our pre-game meal, I head down to our locker room and watch certain clips from the movie "300". It always gets me pumped watching it."
"Through four games I've got 60 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 1 caused fumble, 1 recovered fumble, 6 pass break ups, and 2 blocked kicks."
After helping Mauldin to their most successful season in almost 30 years a season ago Smith and his teammates are off to another fast start this season.
"I'm very happy with my season, I'm just letting the recruiting process happen right now and enjoying my season. The team is 3-1 right now which is good, but obviously I want to be 4-0. However, I think our first loss really brought the team together and made us more of a family."
Smith shared with us a list of the schools he's hearing the most from currently.
"Air Force, Appalachian State, Duke, Clemson, Boston College, Presbyterian, Wofford, and Vanderbilt right now. As for possible offers, Air Force and App State have spoken about it, wanting to see some senior film first."
SCPrepNation.com will have early senior season highlights of Smith in action later this week.
Leading the state in tackles while virtually every team is trying to run away from him is pretty impressive. We asked Smith if he thought his sheer will, game speed, ability to read offenses, or a combination of all those traits have helped him to still dominate.
"I think it's a combination of it all. I'm a very smart player on the field which allows me to read an offense quickly and make certain checks on the field so that I can put myself into the correct place to make a play. But my game speed and quickness helps me to get around the edges and from sideline to sideline to make plays."
One of Mauldin's assistant coaches we spoke to says there have been plenty of times where Smith has changed the defensive set prior to the snap of the ball and his reads have helped the defense to keep opponents for minimal gains where their original defensive call from the sideline would've been gouged for big yardage. An opposing coach we talked to last week said that Smith "is the toughest son of a gun we've seen the past two years and we play a monster schedule. He's the kind of kid every coach would love to have on their team."
That kind of praise to go along with his statistics, measurables, academic achievement, and his character amongst his peers and faculty at Mauldin shows how well rounded Smith is.
Seeing former opponent Marcus Lattimore having great success early on in his college career has only fueled Smith to continue to work on his own craft even more so he can possibly be an impact player on the next level soon.
"I think it does, and I feel whoever offers me is going to get something great! I'm a very adapting, hard working, and smart player and I think at the next level I could really be an impact guy."
"I have visited, App State and Clemson so far this season, but I have a number of game invitations that I will probably go to from Duke, Wofford, South Carolina, and a few more. But I want to take one of my officials to Air Force in December."
Stay tuned for more recruiting updates with Carson Smith right here with SCPrepNation.com. Check out some of Smith's junior season highlights below and be sure to check back later this week for some of his senior season highlights.