Steven Smothers, Franklin High School football player, signs his letter of intent to attend and play football at West Virginia University. (Katherine Dunn, Baltimore Sun video)
Franklin's Steven Smothers had hoped to play in one last high school football all-star game before heading off to college at West Virginia, but he found out earlier this week that he won't be able to play in the Big 33 Football Classic.
Smothers, an electric receiver and return man, must report to Morgantown on Saturday and found out "for sure four days ago" that he will have to miss playing for Team Maryland in the annual showdown with Pennsylvania's best senior football players on June 18 at Hersheypark Stadium.
"At first, I was a little disappointed, but it made sense," Smothers said. "The game is the 18th and we have to report on the 7th; there's no reason to go to college and then focus on a high school all-star game. At first, I was like, 'I want to play,' but I'm going to college now, so I understand why I can't play."
Smothers has already stood out in two all-star games. At the Maryland Crab Bowl on Dec. 10, he was the Player of the Game after catching two touchdown passes and gaining 97 yards on three receptions to lead his team to a 31-28 victory. He scored the first touchdown of the game and, in the third quarter, gave his team the lead for good on a 46-yard touchdown reception.
On New Year's Day, one of his catches at the Offense Defense All-America Bowl landed at No. 3 on ESPN's Sports Center Top 10 Plays of the Night. Smothers beat two defenders to make a diving grab in the corner of the end zone to help his team win a close game.
At Franklin, Smothers was a three-time All-Metro pick and led the Indians to Class 3A state championships his sophomore and junior years. He scored a total of six touchdowns in those two finals -- five on receptions and another after a fumble recovery while playing cornerback.
As much as he's disappointed not to play in the Big 33 game, Smothers is ready to start his college career in Morgantown, where he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his friend and godbrother Tavon Austin, the former Dunbar star who excelled with the Mountaineers and now plays for the Los Angeles Rams.
"It's kind of surreal that it's almost here," said Smothers, who graduates from Franklin on Monday.
"I asked Jacquez and Jordan [the Adams twins who played with Smothers at Franklin and will be his Mountaineer teammates] to send me a picture of my locker, so once I got the picture and I seen my locker, I was like, 'Oh man, I'm really one of them, I'm going to play college football,' so it's just a surreal moment right now."