ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Lakewood High School quarterback Jack Smitherman never imagined his senior year being this crazy.
“No, no, definitely not,” Smitherman said.
Smitherman was set to play his senior season at Miami Edison High School and was receiving interest from several NCAA-Division I football programs.
“LSU, Toledo, FIA, FAU, Maryland, Syracuse,” Smitherman said. “It was very active. And then, it stopped.”
The COVID-19 pandemic halted his recruitment and South Florida high school football was in question of being played at all in a coronavirus hot spot.
“A lot of colleges wanted to come see my spring game,” Smitherman said. “Which never happened. I was hoping to go to summer camps. They were closed. So now, at that time I had no interest or any offers."
When Smitherman realized his dreams of playing college football were slipping away, his family took drastic measures. He and his sister moved from South Florida to St. Petersburg just three weeks ago at the start of practice.
“I had to try to create opportunities,” he said. “I saw Lakewood.”
Head coach Cory Moore is glad he did.
“He’s a physical specimen, he’s also a brain,” Moore, who is beginning his 13th season at Lakewood, said. “A kid that’s 6-5, 230, a big physical specimen.”
“He’s real good, real technical,” senior receiver Jayden Rucker added. “He gets the ball where it needs to be. I think we’ll do real good with him this season.”
“He brings a lot to the game from being so cerebral being able to look and coverages and find where he needs to go with the football,” Moore said. “We’re going to be leaning on him to step up and push us to the next level.”
And that’s exactly where Smitherman wants to be.