Over the next 13 days, we will feature Southern Arizona’s top football players. Our list continues today with Canyon del Oro’s Max Smith, whom coach Dusty Peace compares to former Arizona Wildcats running back Ka’Deem Carey.
The rundown: Max Smith, RB/OLB, 6-0, 185, Canyon del Oro, senior
Who he is: A confident athlete who gets an equal amount of pleasure from lowering his shoulder on wimpy tacklers, as he does when he’s on the opposite side of the ball, running sideline-to-sideline, pouncing on ball carriers.
Smith said if he can break down a defense as a running back and then when he’s lined up at outside linebacker, opponents will be scared of coming his way. “They won’t want to hit back,” Smith said. “They’re going to take it, and they’re not going to be ready for it.”
Entering his third season as a starting outside linebacker, Smith earned most of his attention on the gridiron as the Dorados’ primary running back last season. Though Smith has played football since the fifth grade, his first passion has always been baseball. He recently accepted a baseball scholarship to play outfield for UNLV. Smith hopes to pitch for the Rebels down the road.
There aren’t too many skills that translate from baseball to the football field, but CDO coach Dusty Peace learned quickly he had more than just “a pretty boy spitting seeds from the dugout” on his squad. The Dorados hold a “Superman” event in which the players compete in 10 weight-lifting competitions. To Peace’s surprise, Smith won this summer’s version. Smith has raised his bench max to 255 pounds and is squatting 365.
As a junior, Smith finished just shy of 1,000 rushing yards (976) with 16 touchdowns. This season, Peace plans to split Smith out on the wing.
As one of the outside linebackers in the Dorados’ 3-4 scheme, Smith collected 60 tackles, two fumble recoveries and one interception. He added a blocked punt on special teams.
Proof he’s good: In Peace’s 13 seasons on the Dorados’ coaching staff there haven’t been many junior captains. Last season, Smith became just the third junior to be named a captain in that span.
To show his teammates and coaches he earned the right to be called a captain, Smith, in his first start at tailback, rushed for 149 yards on 22 carries for three touchdowns against Nogales in Week 1. In CDO’s last four games of the season Smith rushed for 504 yards, including 231 yards and three TDs in the postseason.
He said it: “Max is always attentive. He’s very competitive. His greatest trait is that he may not be the fastest, strongest or biggest guy on the field, but there’s just that piece of him that is unmeasurable. That’s his competitiveness, that drive. Ka’Deem (Carey) was very similar.” — Peace