I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with class of 2019 prospective student-athlete Derico Smith, Jr. on Thursday evening. He is a 5 foot 11, and 195 lbs junior running back at Southwest Dekalb High School out of Decatur, GA.
I’m speaking with class of 2019 prospect Derico Smith, Jr. Hello Derico, you attend Southwest Dekalb High School out of Decatur, GA out of the Atlanta metro area correct?
Is this your first year playing with the Panthers’ varsity football team?
“Yes sir. This my first year as a Panther.”
You played at Miller Grove last year during your sophomore year right?
“Yes, and also my freshman year in 2015.”
And speaking of Miller Grove, you and the Panthers have a big, big game on Friday night versus your old Wolverines high school team. And it’s a region game too?
“Yes sir !!!”
Should be a fun game. So what colors do fans need to wear Friday night to support the Panthers?
“Blue and Gold”
Now, I’ve had the chance to watch some of your HUDL highlights, and you line up at running back and split back for the Panthers on offense mostly? Do the coaches have you play and line up anywhere else?
How long have you played at running back?
“Ever since I started playing park ball, but I started playing the position full time when I got to high school.”
What has been your biggest game or most memorable game so far?
“Good question/ I actually have two. My 9th-grade year at Miller Grove with my Current Head coach, Southwest Dekalb’s Damien Wimes. We played Dunwoody. Coach Wimes put me into the game, and I ran for, like, 60 yards and got a touchdown. Now, my biggest game as a Panther was against Cedar Grove, the 2016 state Class AAA champions.”
That’s awesome. I know that Cedar Grove game back in August was a tough game, but then you guys came back the next week and beat Creekside 28-0.
“Yes sir. It was a tough, hard-fought game, and we knew we had a lot of things to work on and came out and did what we needed to do against Creekside.”
Going back to your touchdown versus Dunwoody during your 9th-grade season; after you scored, I know you were pumped and excited as well as the rest of the team and your coaches, but who was the first person that ran up to you and celebrated with you, congratulated you?
“Reggie Curtis >@Reggie98Curtis Since you are a running back, are there any backs that if you had the opportunity to practice and workout with, to learn from for a day, who would it be?
“The Atlanta Falcons’ Devonta Freeman or the Jags’ Leonard Fournette.”
Devonta Freeman is fun to watch. Both he and Tevin Coleman make a great 1-2 punch.
“Yes. One of the best duos I know.”
Speaking of 1-2 punches, man oh man is Georgia running the ball well this year. They have like a 1-2-3-4-5 punch with Chubb, Sony, Swift, Holyfield, and Herrien. Are there any former or current Georgia running backs you are a fan of?
“I have to go with Nick Chubb.”
Good choice. He’s not only a great running back but also a great role model off the field and in the classroom. And speaking of senior running backs, next year (2018) will be your senior year; so, what are your future dreams and goals after you graduate high school?
“My goal is to go to college and play football. I would like to come back and give back to the Panther community and to also make sure that my family – my mother, my sister, and my stepdad would have to never worry about anything again.”
Have you had the chance to visit any schools yet, and are you planning to visit any schools this year before the end of the season?
“Yes sir. I visited Auburn last year (2016) in October. I actually have a visit this weekend to the University of Florida. I want to visit the University Of Georgia before the season over and the University of Tennessee.”
I know some schools have reached out to you and shown some interest; was Brevard College the first school to offer you a scholarship?
“Yes sir. (Brevard College Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs) Coach Eric Gallon was one of the first to reach out. And Cincinnati is showing a lot of love along with the University of Florida.”
Every prospect I talk to, every young man is so excited to get that first offer. It really means a lot, doesn’t it?
“Its a very shocking moment because not everyone has a chance to play football on next level.”
No doubt. I don’t think most people realize how few high school football players out of the tens of thousands go on to play college football. Are there any specific coaches or mentors that have inspired, influenced, and shaped you into the young man you are today? Anyone you would like to give a shoutout to?
“Yes sir. Cousin Dee and Coach Damien Wimes and Coach Williams and the whole Panther coaching staff. Coach Wimes and Coach Williams are like another father figure to me. Coach Brown, Coach Hatchet, and also Coach Stovall, who has been my coach since I played park ball. He is a great coach. I also want to thank my stepdad, and I would also like to give a shoutout to my aunts, mother, and brothers Jamel, BJ, Jalen, and Neiman.”
“I would like to thank and give a shout out to Coach K (Watson), director of True19/True2.0. He’s a very good father and coach who will be coaching me for the True 19 All-Star high school football game held in Dallas, Texas.”
What’s your favorite pregame food?
“QT flatbread or Subway and blue Powerade.”
Derico, I would like to thank you again for taking the time to speak with me and Bulldawg Illustrated. I wish you and the Panthers the best of luck in your game against Miller Grove on Friday Night and much success on the rest of your season. I also pray that you get every opportunity and make the most of those opportunities to realize your goals and dreams. I look forward to talking with you again. Anything you want to add or close with?
“I would like to say a big “THANK YOU” to all my supporters and rest in peace grandma and Booley. This is for Y’all! I have a to say to everyone that’s reading this… Stories don’t make you. They break you!! There was no one who ever became great without a story.”
Check out Derico Smith, Jr.’s highlights on HUDL:
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