SUGAR LAND, Texas -- When Sugar Land (Texas) Dulles coach Jim Creech first sent highlights of his star cornerback Maurice Smith to the Alabama coaching staff, Creech remembers head coach Nick Saban coming away puzzled.
"After he saw his highlight tape, he told me 'Coach, the first part of his highlight tape is Mo on offense. I thought he was a defensive back?'" Creech recalled. "I said 'Nick, the thing I wanted y'all to see is that this guy has great ball skills.'
"And if you're a defensive back and you have great ball skills, that turns passes into interceptions and not bat-downs."
It's Smith's versatility that has stood out on the field for Creech and the Dulles Vikings. And it's his pure ability as a corner that attracted Saban and the Crimson Tide. On Friday at Dulles, the 5-foot-11, 174-pounder received his honorary game jersey during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
"It's definitely an honor and a blessing to be categorized with some of the greats that have come through this game," Smith said. "I know it's going to be a heck of an experience, and I just want to thank everybody for giving me a chance and giving me this opportunity to do what I love to do."
This season, Smith has scored for the Vikings in several ways. Creech has utilized Smith, the nation's No. 12 cornerback and No. 83 overall prospect in the ESPN 150, as much as he can.
"There's nothing that he can't do," Creech said. "He catches the ball. This year he's scored in every way that you can score. He's thrown a two-point conversion, he's caught a two-point conversion, he's run a kickoff back, he's thrown a touchdown pass, he's caught touchdown passes, rushed for touchdowns -- he's just so talented in so many different ways."
Smith also has had his fair share of challenges as a corner, especially when he faced ESPN 150 tight end Derrick Griffin earlier this season. Though the 6-6 Griffin's Rosenberg (Texas) Terry team utilizes a run-heavy option offense, Griffin does get his chances in the passing game. Smith took the challenge to heart and kept Griffin to just two catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Griffin's team won the game, however, 47-36.
"Those are usually the games that I concentrate and watch the most film on just to see little things," Smith said. "I work hard every day and every practice … I loved [that battle]. I was very physical with him."
When it comes to his college future, there won't be any school that can force Smith to waver from the Crimson Tide. His respect for Saban and his ability to coach defensive backs is one of the biggest reasons Smith chose the Crimson Tide amongst a bevy of offers from high-profile programs, including LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.
"I think it's not so much being in the SEC and being top-ranked, but the intensity they go in practice," Smith said. "That's going to be a big thing for me and everybody else that attends the University of Alabama. That's going to give us the best chance to reach our dream, which is the NFL."
When he finished his remarks after being presented with his honorary jersey, he told his friends, classmates and teammates "I'll see y'all in Alabama." During an interview when it was mentioned that he was an Alabama commitment, he uttered the signature "Roll Tide" rallying cry.