Rahshaun Smith getting big -- literally
Class of 2016 prospect already 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and still growing
Rahshaun Smith was an average, normal-sized baby boy when he was born -- just 7 pounds and eight ounces. That was about the last time his size could ever be described as normal.
"He was always the tallest kids in class," said Shenika Torrence, Smith's mother. "Through middle school, he was the tallest kid in the school. In middle school, he was as tall as the principal."
That wasn't that long ago. Smith, whose nickname is "Shaq" just finished his eighth grade year last spring. He'll enroll at Calvert Hall in Towson, Md., this fall where he'll be a 6-foot-3, 220-pound prospect even though he's just entering his freshman season.
"His age has been matching his show size for a couple of years," Torrence said. "He's 15 and he's wearing a (size) 15."
It wasn't hard for his older brother to notice the sudden growth. He's 20 years old and 5-10.
The seemingly constant growth spurts have a down side. Clothes tend to be short lived.
"Oh, gosh, the school clothes he had at the end of the school year, he can't fit into now," Torrence said. "He grows out of pants every two or three months."
Then there's the grocery bill.
"A ton of food. A ton of food," Torrence said when asked how much her son eats. "I knew he would be a big kid in his early years because he's always eating, always eating. His eating habits match his workout habits. The more he eats the more he works out. He's learned to even it out."
Which speaks to Smith's maturity, which is almost as unusual as his size. College coaches have noticed both. Smith already has three scholarship offers. The first came from Boston College, then Youngstown State. The latest came from Maryland this month. Ohio State has also shown strong interest.
"They like my size and my explosion, my attitude," Smith said. "They said they think I'm an overall good kid."
The offers shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone in the family, but they still can't believe it all. Smith, on the other hand, saw this coming.
"My family, they definitely love it," Smith said of the reaction to the scholarship offers. "I always told them I was going to do it for my family. Now that they see me doing it, they're really proud of me.
"They're very surprised actually. I told my mom coming into my eighth grade year that I'd have an offer by the time I got out of the eighth grade. She said 'Just put all my effort into it and I know you can do it.'"
Torrence said all the right things then. But admittedly there was some skepticism. Sure, Smith seemed destined to get scholarship offers, but that soon?
"I was definitely skeptical for a freshman, but the more he developed and he got really, really dedicated & I could see a real passion for him developing for football," she said.
Some advice from Torrence certainly helped. When Smith saw older players getting scholarship offers, he decided he wanted to follow in their path. That's when his mother challenged him to put in the hard work.
"Look at where they are now and where you are now and you have to fill in that gap," she said. "You have to do exactly what they're doing."
Smith's weight room numbers are hard to quantify. He bench presses 225 pounds, squats 205 and has power cleaned 185. Those would be paltry compared to other college football prospects, but certainly respectable for a player who won't turn 16-years-old until March. Smith said he's determined to improve his game, that the early success won't affect him.
"I don't let it get to my head," Smith said. "I just keep working like I'm a player with no offers and working like I'm trying to get offers."
Smith may have to keep fighting to stay motivated and level-headed. He's on pace to become one of the top prospects of the 2016 class. One way to stay focused it to think about the scholarship offers he doesn't have. One school, in particular, stands out.
"I just like Oregon's style of play (and) the way the coaches are when I watch them on TV," Smith said. "I like the way they play defense."
Smith grew up rooting for the home-state Maryland Terrapins, and also followed West Virginia and Penn State.
West Virginia has a certain allure. Smith grew up admiring linebacker Bruce Irvin, a mentor who played for the Mountaineers before being selected with the 15th overall pick in April's NFL draft.
"After I watched him play, I was like that's what I want to be like," Smith said.
One would think that when Smith isn't practicing, training or eating that he'd do normal, kid stuff, like have his head buried in a video game, ride a bike or go to the pool. Not Smith. He's busy studying game tape of himself and his favorite players, namely Irvin or Pittsburgh Steelers' linebacker James Harrison.
It's almost impossible to project what position Smith will play in college and possibly beyond. He's already a typically sized outside linebacker prospect. He said he'd like to play a hybrid position with some snaps at linebacker and defensive end. Yet if continues to grow, he could easily outgrow those positions. It's certainly reasonable to think he could play strictly defensive end, defensive tackle or offensive tackle.
Of course, if he continues to grow at his current rate, he could also be the starting center for any basketball team. Too bad for college basketball recruiters he's focused on football.
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