MONTEZUMA -- Roquan Smith is fine with the attention he is getting as one of the top high school football players in the nation.
He’s just not dwelling on it. Or really even thinking about it.
Instead, the Macon County star linebacker has other things on his mind, like enjoying his senior season and winning a lot of games.
“It all started in the 10th grade, so it’s a blessing, but I can’t really think about it,” Smith said. “There are other things that are more important right now. It’s very exciting; then again, my high school career is coming to an end, and I want to make it last as long as possible and enjoy it.”
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Still, it’s hard for Smith to avoid the avalanche of attention that comes with being a top recruit. He is listed as a four-star talent and the nation’s No. 55 prospect and No. 5 outside linebacker, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Smith has more than 30 Division I offers and said he has cut his list to Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, LSU, Clemson, Miami, USC and UCLA.
To focus on his senior season, Smith said he won’t make a decision until National Signing Day in February. But he knows the focus is on him and is motivated by that to have a strong senior season.
“It makes you keep working and keep pushing to get better because you know there is someone out there who wants to take your spot,” Smith said.
Smith’s head coach certainly likes what he sees out of his star senior.
“The biggest thing has been the process of watching him grow from a bright-eyed kid with a lot of talent who didn’t know what he was doing to a player with a high IQ who really knows the game and understands how to play,” Macon County head coach Larry Harold said. “He was a quiet kid three years ago, and now he has become a leader for his teammates and the entire team.”
Smith also has become a magnet for attention from college recruiters, and that has helped the rest of the program.
Smith’s presence has helped shine the spotlight on other talented players for the Bulldogs like defensive lineman Jerquez Huey, offensive lineman Jose Yanez, linebackers Jaqwan Roberts and Joseph Daniels and athlete Devonte Hudson in this year’s senior class. Macon County’s 2016 class includes even more talent in defensive lineman Malik Walker, offensive lineman Raymond Smith and defensive back Kyron Smith.
“This has been a learning experience for me because I have had to arrange my schedule and his schedule, too, to handle all the attention. I told him, ‘Most people pay someone to do these things, and I’m doing them for free,’ ” Harold said with a laugh. “But it has been great for the whole program. All these coaches who have come through have seen the other talent, and they realize that we’re not just one good player, that we have others, too.”
And that is driving Smith to help the team take the next step. After going 1-9 in 2011, the Bulldogs have reached the playoffs in Harold’s two seasons and went 6-5 last year. That was the program’s first winning season since 2008.
“Every week we want to go out and prove what kind of team we have,” Smith said. “That’s our plan for this season. I haven’t really thought about my decision, and I can’t worry about that right now.
“That’s why I haven’t committed yet. I’d rather be committed to my teammates here and focus on this season and what we’re able to do as a team.”