Troublemaker in training
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Freebie from ISD back in May talking about Braden and his offer. Irish Offer Elite 2014 OL
Braden Smith is already one of the most coveted 2014 prospects in America. |
The 6-foot-6, 280-pounder from Olathe South High School (Olathe, Kan.) currently holds offers from programs like Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Missouri, South Carolina, TCU, Iowa, Kansas and Kansas State among others.
“Just about everybody has offered,” Olathe South head coach Jeff Gourley said. “There’s only a handful that haven’t at this point.”
Notre Dame offered last Friday when Irish assistant coach Bob Elliott stopped by the school, but even with all of the attention, Smith isn’t giving much thought to the recruiting process or setting up unofficial visits at this point.
“The only school he wants to check out right now is Olathe South,” said Gourley. “Those words are out of his mouth.
“He’s handling it real well. We’re helping him out. His parents and I have a great relationship and we’re not going to let anybody get too carried away with him. Matter of fact, we’re really looking forward to the end of the recruiting season. This week he’s been off limits to everybody. Absolutely no one has been allowed to come in and talk to him.”
Instead, Smith is concentrating on this weekend’s state track meet.
“He took sixth last year as a freshman in the shot put,” said Gourley. “This year he should probably win the discus as a sophomore and he’ll place real high in the shot put.”
Gourley and Smith’s family believe it’s important to let Smith be a kid.
“He’s very quiet, almost shy,” his coach said. “He’s starting to loosen up, but he’s a very, very typical sophomore. He’s quiet, shy, unassuming, very open and honest if you ask him questions. He’s beginning to take a leadership role as a young man, but it’s a foreign concept to him at this point.”
In fact, Smith and his family haven’t even worried about developing a plan on how to attack the recruiting process yet.
“They’ll worry about it later,” said Gourley. “There is no road map or plan. We’re just going to take it day by day. I know this without question and this is something that the parents and Braden have been very open and understanding about, he is definitely wanted. There’s not one person in this country that is going to back off because we shut him off from visiting with anybody.
“Come August 1st, he’s off limits. When the season is over, we’ll open him back up and let the coaches visit with him a little bit more and go that route. We’re enjoying the process, we’re not going to make it a chore.”
Gourley points to Smith’s size, strength and intelligence as to why the sophomore has been able to garner so much attention at such an early stage.
“Let me put it to you this way, Braden Smith, when we did our horizontal jump test, he beat every offensive lineman at the NFL Combine,” Gourley said. “He’s 6-6, 280 pounds and he outjumped and outbench-pressed a lot of the NFL Combine guys. He outjumped all of them by four inches. He’s a special athlete.
“The horizontal jump translates into explosion off the ball. When your neuroreceptors are firing that fast, you have quite a massive amount of force coming through an opponent. You add that with the bulk and strength of maintaining that drive and you’ve got a Braden Smith who is the best offensive lineman in the country, probably at any age, definitely in that graduating class.”
Where college recruiters see an amazing amount of talent and potential and possibly the nation’s best offensive lineman, Gourley and the Olathe community see the same thing they’ve always seen.
“We all look at Braden and Braden is Braden,” Gourley said. “Other people come in, their jaws drop and they act like they just saw their first girlfriend. Coaches just get silly when they see him. I don’t know if they think people are lying about what he looks like or what the case is. We get so many people like, ‘Oh my gosh. Holy smokes.’
“I had one coach that couldn’t even speak, I had to say, ‘Coach, are you alright?’ To me, Braden is Braden. We laugh about that all of the time because it’s just Braden.”
But Gourley does understand some of the amazement.
“He is very special and a unique young man,” the coach said. “This isn’t a freak accident. His sister is just as good an athlete in her sport as he is in football. His sister is a thrower down at TCU.”
Gourley feels fortunate about still having a couple more seasons to coach Smith. Gourley has only coached two players who have gone Division I, including his son Scott who signed with Air Force in February, but has still led the program to great success including a 6A state title this past season.
“We’ve won a lot of football games with Average Joes,” he said. “I didn’t realize how nice it was to have great talent. Life is so much easier, it’s not even funny. It’s unique, it really is.
“It’s a lot of fun.”
And that’s how he intends to keep the recruiting process for his star pupil.