When Mother’s Day came around back in May, Keontra Smith knew it was time to unveil his college commitment.
“I just wanted to make it special,” he said.
And with his decision, he gave his mom a reason to be happy.
He chose to stay home.
The top safety at Chaminade-Madonna — and one of the top senior prep football players in South Florida this year — pledged his commitment to the University of Miami.
“I’m right down the street from my family,” Smith said. “If anything happens, I’m here.”
Plus it gives him a chance to follow in the footsteps of two of his favorite football players: Ed Reed and Sean Taylor.
“They hit hard,” Smith said. “They’re aggressive. They’re savages out there on the field. That’s the game I bring to the field. I kind of play the same.”
He has the potential to make an impact at the college level.
The 247Sports composite ranks Smith as the No. 17 safety in the current recruiting cycle and the 36th overall player in the state regardless of position. Smith is also one of three Chaminade-Madonna seniors committed to UM along with four-star cornerback Te’Cory Couch and three-star weak-side defensive end Cameron Williams.
“The love that they showed to me and my parents when I’m there on campus, that played a big role,” Smith said of his decision to commit to UM.
And with his commitment out of the way, Smith is able to focus all of his attention to his senior year at Chaminade-Madonna and helping the Lions in their quest to repeat as Class 3A state champions.
“I can say it felt amazing because we were state contenders last year [in 2016] but we lost to Trinity,” Smith said. “So getting there and winning, it was just the total package because that’s what I’ve always been fighting for, a state title.”
As a four-year starter, Smith said his focus has shifted from solely focusing on his individual performance to serving as a mentor for his younger teammates in practice and on the sidelines.
“When I see my guys out there with their heads down or if they mess up on a rep, I come to them and pick them up and tell them the right way to do it. I don’t always yell at them,” Smith said. “Another way is telling everybody to push yourself to the max because you’re only cheating yourself. In the game of football, you can’t just go off talent, because someday it will catch up to you. I preach that to them.”
Those messages play a role in his game, too.
After all, this is just the first step in what he hopes to be a long football career.
“I’m just chasing my dreams,” he said.
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