Pipeline open: Miami Central guard commits to USF
When USF hired former Miami Central head coach Telly Lockette as its running backs coach, it seemed to create a natural pipeline between one of the state's most dominant prep powerhouses and the Bulls' football program.
That connection yielded its first commitment on Friday, as Michael Smith, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound offensive guard from Central committed to the Bulls during a campus visit. Smith, a solid run blocker who helped open holes for Central's two elite running backs in 2012, said he chose the Bulls over Arkansas, and Lockette's presence was what drew him to USF.
"I loved the facilities and just felt it was the right place for me," said Smith, who visited Friday's morning practice with a handful of Central teammates, with another group expected to attend Saturday's drills.
Smith's offensive line coach at Central, Michael Ross, has known Lockette since they played together at Miami Northwestern two decades ago, and Ross said he expects USF to be a major player for Central's talented and deep senior class. Smith is athletic and coachable, said Ross, who actually has his linemen play badminton at times in the offseason to help work on their footwork; what he likes most about Smith is the way he has a mean streak that shows up in games as a physical blocker.
Smith is the second Central player set to join the Bulls -- kicker Emilio Nadelman enrolled in January, getting to campus before Lockette was hired. We'll run through Central's Division I prospects in the next few days, but Smith said he'll be busy trying to convince his teammates to choose the same path he's taking north to Tampa.