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June 3, 2012
Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
The thought of the full team of Rivals.com recruiting analysts and videographers surrounding him during the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge does not even begin to rattle Lake Charles (La.) Barbe tight end DeSean Smith.
"There is no pressure with that," he said. "I have had people watching my every rep at every practice and every camp since spring.
"Coaches, reporters, everyone has been out there, so this won't be much different."
The No. 3-ranked player at his position in the country and No. 67 overall in the recently released Rivals100, Smith has been in the spotlight long enough to know not to do anything different.
"I just go out and do what I do," he said. "I think people can tell when you are trying to do too much. Being able to repeat your actions and be successful is what they want to see, not trying to show off."
Smith hauled in 43 passes for 764 yards and seven touchdowns in the wide-open offense at Barbe and he has the full attention of 16 college programs that have offered him - with LSU, Alabama, and Florida being the leaders for his services. His familiarity with an aerial attack is a plus, but the 6-foot-4 target hopes to showcase his complete game at the June 22-24, invitation-only event at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta.
"I can block and I can catch," Smith said. "I can move around really well and be versatile.
"I want to up my rating and prove that I am a better tight end than people think."
While the chip on his shoulder may be imaginary, it is what fuels him.
"I love to get out there and work," Smith said. "I love to prove people wrong and do what they said I couldn't.
"I am a big guy and sometimes I get split out wide and I need to do a better job of getting off the line, especially if I am against a smaller corner. I just want to keep getting better."
Going against 100 of the best players in the country at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge will provide an excellent opportunity for Smith to show that he has grown.
And as for the competitors who have similar plans, Smith has a simple message:
"There will be plenty of people there to see that it won't be happening that way."
Mike Farrell's take
With Adam Breneman and O.J. Howard on hand, Smith has been overlooked a bit, but he isn't far off the duo when it comes to athleticism and talent. We've all seen how tight ends can be difference makers in these all-star 7-on-7 events and Smith could be the bail out guy for Tyrone Swoopes for the Southwest. Smith can do damage after the catch and he's a big target which will also help. He will be out to prove that we have the wrong two guys at the top of our tight end rankings.