Inside the Class of '06: Greg Smith

Photo: Eric Vinikoff

The 18th in a daily series of 25 interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '06: spring enrollee Greg Smith.

Greg Smith
Tight End
Montgomery High School
6-4/238/4.75
NR: 57 SR: 81 Star Rating: **

An Inside Texas conversation with Montgomery head coach John Bolfing on Greg Smith:

IT: What are Greg’s strengths as a football player?

Bolfing: Greg has tremendous size. He's 6-4, 6-5, weighs 230 pounds, so size was a big factor. Then you tie that in with the speed he has, he's a 4.6 or better type of kid in the 40, so that's a great quality. He's a very strong individual and he has a lot of room for growth in that area. But I think the No. 1 thing and the most important thing about Greg is he's an extremely intelligent kid. You know, he's a 4.0 kid. He's one of those kids, no matter how many plays he plays on the football field, he will never embarrass The University of Texas in any way, shape or form. He will graduate on time and will go on and take advantage of the education he is about to receive and do great things with it. To me, there was no down side in recruiting Greg Smith. Everything was very, very positive and I think Texas got themselves a winner.

IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Greg?

Bolfing: They saw a very big kid who was very, very athletic. You look at a guy like David Thomas and other tight ends they've had around there, they're looking for that type of kid who has a good frame on him and is very, very athletic and they saw that in Greg right away. Then, you throw in the fact that he is such an intelligent kid, I think all those things just really, really impressed them. I think last spring they saw him during the spring running around and catching the ball and they were just really hooked and realized this kid was a big-time player.

IT: Where did they first see him?

Bolfing: I think they first saw him when he was in about eighth grade actually. He went to The University of Texas football camp -- I may be wrong on the date, but somewhere around the eighth grade, and he was always a real mature kid for his age and a big kid. I think they first saw him there and then through the years going to different camps and things and then ultimately going to their camp and seeing how he'd matured and all. The junior camp I think really sold them on him and they felt like he was one of the guys they wanted to get.

IT: Does Greg have a frame to bulk up quite a bit?

Bolfing: I think he has the ability to put on a lot of weight but I don't think that will happen. I'm sure they'll want to put a little bit of weight on him but he's already got a good size on him. From what I understand, they don't really want him to get too big, they want him to be the type guy that catches the ball and maintains his quickness. I hadn't really heard them talk much about putting a lot of weight on him. I may be wrong, but that's what I've gathered. I think they see him as a kid that will just get stronger and stronger and put on a lot more muscle and will be the type kid they can throw the ball to, much like they did with David Thomas. I think that's really the way they see him, being a guy that can step in and do a lot of things that David did.

IT: What was his playing size for you guys?

Bolfing: He probably hasn't gotten a whole lot taller since his sophomore year. Now he has grown some, he's probably grown an inch, inch-and-a-half, but since his sophomore year in high school he's been about 6-4 or better. He probably played at about 215 as sophomore, maybe even a little bit less than that. As a junior I think he was up there about 220-225. And since then he's even gotten a little bit bigger. I think when he left here in the fall he was probably 230-235 or something like that. I think they see they can put a lot more weight on him if they want to but I don't really know if that's something they're really going to try to do.

IT: What was his role in your offense as a junior?

Bolfing: At the time I was the defensive coordinator, so I was not on the offensive side of the ball, but what his role was, he lined up as a true tight end. The kid was an outstanding blocker and has great leverage and great athleticism and just really did a great job blocking off the edge, and back then a great deal of the offense was running the stretch play and the outside pause play, so that block was very, very important. But he's also the type kid, we would split him out as a split end and get a good matchup on a corner and throw it up for him and let him go get it. He was also a kid that could find a seam over the middle and he made a lot of big plays there as well. Ya know, he's really such a versatile kid. He's also the type kid, we probably could have lined him up at running back and tossed him the ball and he could have done pretty good there too. He did a lot of different things for us offensively and also played some defensive end for us. Like I said, he's just a very versatile kid and very well-rounded athlete.

IT: So he's not a guy you would pigeon hole as a pass-catching tight end or a blocking tight end, he's both?

Bolfing: I think he's the type of kid that could be both, especially as he gets stronger and learns the college game and gets used to how physical it is. I think he's the type of kid that over the next couple of years he could be pretty good at both. I don't know how they're going to use him, but I'd say he's the type kid that is very versatile and could do a lot of things for them.

IT: Before he came down to Austin, what were the things he was working on to get better and get prepared for jumping in in the spring?

Bolfing: Man, I tell you what, he had that knee injury back in June, had the surgery, and he was just rehabbing here at school, rehabbing with his doctor in Houston, he was lifting here, he was doing whatever he could do to possibly get better. He never sat still and as he went through the process, as they let him, he started doing more and more and more and never missed a day. Matter of fact, he was here every day. I don't think he missed a single practice of ours the entire year. Even though he didn't play a lick, he was here every single day, at every single practice, at every single game, helping out wherever he could, and watching, and then it was time for him to go workout or go to rehab or whatever, he went and did that. He really worked to get himself ready and from what I gather, he's pretty much 100 percent right now.

IT: Was Greg a leader for you guys, and if so, how did he lead?

Bolfing: More than anything, Greg kind of held back a little bit because he wasn't there playing in the games, so he's not the type kid -- he didn't want to jump in there too much because he knew wasn't going through the workouts every single day and doing all the things everybody else was doing so he kind of sat back a little bit but I think what he was, he was a tremendous influence on our team because our kids saw him there every day and they realized that that was not easy for him. It was not easy for him to come to practice every day, it was not easy for him to go to every game and be there, so I think he was an inspirational type leader. He didn't have too say much, didn't have to do much, but just the fact that he was there every single day and every single practice and every single game, I think our kids really fed off that and realized if he can do that, then we really need to put forth our best effort and do the best job that we can possibly do, so I think he was more of a real positive influence on us just by his presence.

IT: What did Greg mean to your football program?

Bolfing: Greg was a three-year starter for us. He was a kid you could count on every single day. He was somebody you could point to and say, This is the way you ought to handle yourself in the classroom, this is the way you ought to handle yourself out in public, this is the way you ought to handle yourself in the weight room, and you know he was a very good basketball player too. Everything he did, he did it well, he did it with a lot of class, he worked very, very hard, so what he really meant to us was great leadership. Somebody the kids could look to and say, Here's a kid that is tremendously gifted and he's out there busting his tail to get better so why shouldn't we? So I think he had a tremendous amount of influence there. And then of course on the field, when he was able to play, when he was healthy, he was a kid that made plays for us. He was a playmaker for us and the kids realized that and I think our players really looked at him and saw what a big influence he could have on our team if he was able to play this year. But I guess the impact he had on us was his leadership, his work ethic, all the little things that he did really influenced our other kids quite a lot and they could look to him and see that that he was doing all these little things to get better and they asked themselves, If he's doing it, why shouldn't we? So he's meant a whole lot to our program. Of course, any time you get a Division-I recruit, especially to The University of Texas, that's huge to a program. It's going to bring more attention to our program. It's going to mean other colleges might take a little closer look at Montgomery athletes in the future and it brings a little notoriety as a football program and as a school. He's meant a lot and we're certainly going to miss him a lot.

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Greg's ability as a football player?

Bolfing: [Laughs] Yeah, a defining moment is probably last June when he tore his ACL. As a junior, he actually had a hand injury, broke his thumb and missed some playing time there. He wasn't able to play much offense for a few games because he had a club on his hand. He blocked and caught a couple of balls for us with that big ol' club on his hand, but I think probably one game last year, we were playing Katy Creek, he was almost over the thumb injury but still had a little hand cast on, and we lined him up as a wideout and I think two consecutive series we threw fades up to him in the end zone and he just went up over everybody and caught and that was really the first time I think everybody just said, Wow! This kid is special, not just anybody can do that, especially with the cast on your hand. For me, I remember that game and him making a couple of big catches over defenders and I was thinking, You really can't cover the kid.

IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about Greg that we didn't already cover?

Bolfing: I think one thing that was really neat about Greg, before he left he took some time with our younger kids, our junior high kids, some of his own time and went down there and spoke with them and I think that's the kind of kid he is. He's very unselfish. If you ask him to do something he's going to try to make time for it and I think that's a very important quality that he has and I think that's something probably you'll see in Austin over the next few years. You'll see a kid that is going to be very involved, as much as he can be. I know football players' time is in great demand but he's the type of kid you'll see very much involved in the community and he'll relish that opportunity. Although he's somewhat quiet in many respects, he communicates very, very well with kids and I think you'll see he'll be more than a student and a football player, he'll be a very positive influence out in the community as well.

UT's Signing Day bio: A two-time all-district selection who lettered in four sports -- football, basketball, track and field and soccer -- as a prepster … was a two-year starter before missing his senior season with an injury … two-year member of the team leadership council … voted second team all-district (18-4A) and honorable mention all-county as a junior … made 10 receptions for 165 yards and three TDs … named honorable mention all-district as a sophomore … three-year letterman in basketball … led his team to a bi-district championship as a junior … earned first team all-district and all-county … named honorable mention all-county as a sophomore … played on the USA People to People Ambassador basketball team, leading them to a second-place finish at the Switzerland Invitational … earned all-tournament team honors … lettered twice competing in the 200 meters, 400 meters, long jump, triple jump, sprint relays, shot put and discus in track and field … was a regional qualifier in the 200 meters and the shot put … helped his 4x200 relay team set a school record … also earned a letter in soccer as a sophomore … a member of the National Honor Society … involved with the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society … earned second-team academic all-state and academic all-district as a senior … made Montgomery HS and national Honor Roll … participated in the Student Leadership Conference in Jan. 2004 … was a children's leader at his church … spent time as a math tutor … was a Special Olympics coach … worked at the Star of Hope homeless shelter … uncle, Gus Jr., and grandfather, Gus Sr., played football at St. Joseph's … cousin, Vick Fortino, played football at Wisconsin from 1985-88 … enjoys drawing and playing the bass guitar … full name is Gregory David Smith … born on Jan. 13, 1988 in Greenbrae, Calif.

"Texas is a balanced school. They are competitive both academically and athletically and that is exactly what I was looking for. The coaches are also great and I like the offense that they run."

NEXT UP: HUNTER LAWRENCE

Photos courtesy of Eric Vinikoff

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