Westwood High football coach Dustin Curtis wasn’t sure what he was getting when Cam Smith arrived on campus in the winter.
Curtis remembers talking to Smith in his office shortly after he moved back to the Midlands. Smith grew up in the Columbia area but moved to Maryland before his freshman year because of his mother’s job.
When his mother got a job closer to home, Smith enrolled at Westwood in January.
“I think I remember asking him if he was pretty good and wanted to play college football?” Curtis said this week. “And when he said he had a few offers and interest from Syracuse and Maryland, I was like, 'OK.' Once we were able to get him on field for drills, he is what a college athlete should look like. He is long, has good build, great speed and change of direction. ... He is kind of the whole package.”
Curtis isn’t the only one who thought highly of Smith. College coaches did as well and were regular visitors to Westwood during the May evaluation period.
In the months since his return, Smith has become one of the hottest names in the state for the class of 2019. 247Sports and Rivals rank him as the third-best prospect in the state and he has accumulated numerous Power Five offers, including South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, West Virginia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina, among others.
Smith is showcasing his skills this summer against some of the nation’s best. On Thursday, he competed in the Rivals’ 5-Star challenge at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
After the Rivals’ camp, Smith headed to Texas for Nike's The Opening at the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility.
“I’m trying to be the best and make sure people know who I am when I leave,” Smith said. “I just want to be in every rep I can and the opportunity to show I am the best. At first, college coaches, they all told me they didn’t know who I was. I was coming in as an underdog. They didn’t know who I was, like I was somewhere underneath a rock.
“I knew I had the potential to do all of this, and it is coming true. I just have to stay humble and keep working. Someone out there could be working harder than me if I were to be lazy, so I've got to keep working.”
Smith embraced his role as an underdog but has enjoyed the recruiting process and everything that has come with it. He is a quiet person by nature, but things change when he is on the football field and around his teammates.
Smith has fit right in at Westwood, where he was familiar with most of his teammates and assumed a leadership role on the team.
“It was a different culture and wasn’t for me,” Smith said of his time in Maryland. “I was excited and wanted to come back here and graduate with my friends. I have been friends with these guys since elementary school.”
At 6-foot-1, 171 pounds, Curtis said Smith has the perfect length and build to match up with physical receivers he will go against. Smith said his strength is in his press coverage, and he wants to improve on his footwork coming off the line of scrimmage.
Smith also has shown the ability to play receiver and will see his share of time there with the Redhawks. As a junior at Fort Meade High School, he caught eight passes for 90 yards and rushed for 205 to go along with his 47 tackles on defense.
“In the spring, we didn’t use him at all [on offense]. He was coming into a new defensive system,” Curtis said. “We left him on defense so he could get comfortable with T.J. Blanding and rest of the secondary. At South Carolina's 7-on-7, we worked him up to go in at wideout. He is very natural because he has good stop-start and knows how to control his feet. He had a couple of big catches and was very sure to point out to me that he was catching and playing well at wideout, because he wants to be on the field as much as possible.”
Smith announced his top eight schools as South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida State, West Virginia, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech on Sunday. He plans to announce his college choice Aug. 17 before Westwood’s opener against Lugoff-Elgin.
Smith was a fan of South Carolina growing up. He ran a 4.48 in 40-yard dash and had a 36-inch vertical at a USC camp at the beginning of June to earn an offer from the Gamecocks.
“I like how they are building around that program and investing,” Smith said of South Carolina. “They've got the football operations building and the indoor facility they just built. They are trying to revamp the program and get in-state talent like when they had Jadeveon [Clowney] and Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore.”