RECRUITING: Gators Lead For Eric Smith

One of the top running back prospects in the state of Florida is Seffner Armwood stud Eric Smith, who busted onto the recruiting scene during his sophomore season. Smith is coming off an injury-plagued junior year, but when he’s healthy he’s one of the best backs in the country.

When running back prospect Eric Smith is talked about, most people think back to one game. During his sophomore season, Smith ran at will during his team’s state championship game, almost bringing Armwood back from an impossible deficit to a play or two away from a state title. Great things were expected of him his junior year but injuries slowed him down considerably.

“I only played in four games this past season, but when I did play it was pretty good,” Smith said. “In those games, I rushed for 500 yards and scored around 12 touchdowns.”

The 5-11, 225-pounder expects a better year next season and he’s discovered that the injury problems of last year haven’t scared the big time football programs away.

“Right now, I’m looking at Florida, Clemson, Auburn, USF, and FIU,” said Smith, who also offers from those schools along with Nebraska and Ole Miss.

Smith talked about the some of the schools on his list:

FLORIDA: “I’ve been to UF plenty times. It’s just a great school. That’s the only school I’ve visited yet.”

CLEMSON: “They run the ball a lot. I’ve been talking to them a little bit.”

AUBURN: “They’re a good school and they’ve put out good running backs, which is important to me.”

Missing from Smith’s schools of interest/offers list are Miami and his childhood favorite, Florida State.

“FSU sends me stuff from time to time, but at this point who knows if they’ll offer,” Smith said. “Really I feel the same way about Miami too.”

Smith’s connections with Florida will likely keep the Gators high on his list.

“I know a lot of the guys already there,” Smith said. “Obviously I played with Torrey Davis last year at Armwood, but I also know AJ Jones and Jarred Fayson. That’s really important to me to know some of the players.”

He has gotten plenty of attention from Florida running backs coach Stan Drayton, too. He says Drayton stays in touch more than any other coach.

“I talk to Coach Drayton a lot,” Smith said. “He tells me that he likes big backs. He said that people might tell me not to go to UF because they are a passing team, but he says that it really depends on the scheme for each game and on the opposing team’s defense.”

Smith says he was on the Florida campus three times for games last season plus he’s made a few other unofficial visits.

“The Florida campus is just a great atmosphere,” Smith said. “Everyone is a Gator fan and they’re all totally crazy about their school. Every time I’ve ever been on the campus I’ve been treated like royalty.”

The talented back does not have a time table for when he will go public with his decision.

“I don’t really know when I’m going to decide,” Smith said. “I’m just trying to see what schools are going to step up to the plate.”

With no decision in sight, Smith has one of his camping options decided, while also wanting to visit some of the others.

“Coach Drayton really wants me to camp at Florida this summer, so I’ll probably do that,” Smith said. “And hopefully I’ll also be at a lot of games next year in The Swamp. I also want to visit the other schools that I’m looking at right now.”

When asked if Florida is his leader at this point in the process, Smith had a precise answer.

“Yes sir, most definitely.”