Cam Smith arrived at Westwood High School without much fanfare but that’s not the way he’s leaving.
Less than a year after enrolling at Westwood, Smith made his mark as a football player and on Wednesday received one of high school football’s top honors. The senior defensive back was given his jersey to play in the All-American Bowl on Jan. 5 in San Antonio.
It is the second consecutive year a Midlands players was picked for the all-star game. Spring Valley’s Channing Tindall, who is now at Georgia, played in last year’s game.
“It is truly a blessing to know all my hard work is paying off, the long nights, the workouts,” Smith said. “Ever since I was little I wanted to play in this game. I look forward to competing against the best, showing that I belong with the best.”
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Playing in a national all-star game wasn’t on Smith’s mind when he moved back from Maryland and enrolled at Westwood in January. He was just trying to get his recruiting profile up.
Smith had just a couple of offers including one from Old Dominion, and Westwood coach Dustin Curtis wasn’t sure what he was getting as player. Smith admitted he came close to committing to ODU because he didn’t know how much more interest would come, but he ended up not doing it.
That proved to be a wise move for Smith. After a couple of strong showings at camps in the spring, his recruiting took off and Power 5 offers started to roll in for him. South Carolina offered Smith in June, and he committed to South Carolina after Westwood’s opener.Aug. 17.
Smith had 54 tackles, four for loss and two forced fumbles this year despite teams not throwing his way much.
After playing in the Shrine Bowl on Dec. 15 and All-American Bowl in January, Smith will enroll at USC and should see the field during his freshman season. Smith watched this season as freshmen Jaycee Horn, RJ Roderick and Israel Mukuamu all were big contributors in the secondary.
Smith also saw the need for more playmakers after watching Saturday’s game against rival Clemson.
“I was thinking things we can do better and the negatives and what we can do different. But we know we have hope and potential so that won’t happen next year,” Smith said. “I plan on going in and trying to start and do everything I can to start. I want to do all the little things to make sure I’m ready.”
Curtis said Smith, who he calls an exceptional athlete, saw big improvement in his man-to-man cover skills as the season went along. In addition to athletic ability, Curtis loves Smith’s confidence, something that is good especially for a defensive back to have and something that differs from his off-the-field personality.
Smith, who isn’t afraid to talk trash to opposing teams, is a pretty shy kid, as evidenced by his speech when he received his jersey.
“Defense is hard because you want your guys to play with the kind of aggressiveness. They just have to be able hone it in sometimes,” Curtis said. “You’d rather teach that than teach them how to be a dog. He is one.
“He is an exceptional athlete and I think he gives South Carolina a lot of flexibility in what he can do with his skill set. Because he loves to hit and tackle. If he continues to work hard, he has a chance to be a good one.”