Staying home with the Herd

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

SOUTH POINT — Just like in the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Chris Smith agrees with Dorothy. There’s no place like home.

Smith, the prized quarterback for the South Point Pointers, will verbally commit at a 1 p.m. press conference today to play football in 2007 at Marshall University and head coach Mark Snyder.

Among the schools across the country recruiting Smith were N.C. State, Stanford, Ohio State, West Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Kentucky, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue.

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West Virginia offered Smith last year on the first day juniors could be offered a scholarship.

Besides Marshall and WVU, Iowa, Ohio, Bowling Green, Cincinnati and Akron all put offers on the table.

“Marshall is somewhere I felt comfortable. I like coach (Mark) Snyder. I like staying close to home and being near my family and friends. I just liked the coaching staff over there,” said Smith.

The Thundering Herd offense currently features running back Ahmad Bradshaw and wide receiver Hiram Moore. Smith said the Herd’s style is fine with him.

“I like their offense. (Quarterback) coach (Larry) Kueck has good track record with quarterbacks,” Smith said of Kueck’s work with NFL quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich.

“The way they came across is they aren’t going to change. They’re going to be balanced. They’d be dumb not to use Bradshaw or not to use Hiram.”

By committing early, Smith said he has erased all the recruiting pressures.

“That’s why I wanted to get it out of the way and relax and enjoy me senior year,” Smith said. “I know other schools are going to keep calling, but I’ve got my mind made up for sure. I’m going to Marshall. I’m not going to change. I‘m excited to get the chance to play at the next level.”

Marshall is returning two quarterbacks this season who shared the starting job last year, senior Jimmy Skinner and junior Bernie Morris. Although Smith knows there are no guarantees or promises of playing time at the college level, he still welcomes the opportunity.

“(The coaches) think I can come in and compete and play there,” Smith said.

Smith, a 6-foot-3, 227-pound senior, has been a starter since he was a freshman. Last season as a junior, Smith completed 91 of 181 passes as he threw for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns.

South Point head coach Dan McDavid has no doubt that Smith can play for the Herd.

“He’s a kid with all the potetential in the world. He has the tools and I think he’ll be successful at the next level. And he’s a hard worker,” McDavid said.

“He’s a playmaker.”

A first team all-district and special mention All-Ohio selection in Division IV, Smith ran 90 times for 324 yards and six scores.