By LARRY VAUGHT
Boyle County junior Reese Smith knew that Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and UK secondary coach Dean Hood were planning on coming to see Boyle play at Lexington Catholic last week.
Kentucky had already offered a scholarship to his Boyle teammate, Landen Bartleson, as well as Lexington Catholic quarterback Beau Allen. Like Smith, both are juniors.
However, Smith was not expecting the UK coaches to come to Boyle’s walk-through Friday morning and he didn’t know his own Kentucky scholarship open would be coming after Boyle’s 40-14 win that featured a 66-yard touchdown catch by Smith along with 49 yards rushing on six carries. Not bad considering Smith had missed the previous two games due to a broken finger and had to play with a cast on his hand against Catholic.
“They said they were ready to make the offer even before the game started,” said Smith, who also starts at safety. “I had a feeling an offer might eventually be coming but I was still very surprised and excited. It was definitely a big one for me to get and for them to come to our walk-through was really a big deal. It was pretty cool having coach Stoops there for that.”
Tennessee was Smith’s first Southeastern Conference offer. He also has offers from Cincinnati, Troy, Ball State and Austin Peay. The 5-11, 175-pound Smith has 27 catches for 536 yards and five scores this year despite missing two games. He had seven catches for 143 yards and a score, picked off one pass and deflected another pass in Boyle’s season-opening win over Ballard and then came back with a strong showing against Catholic.
Smith’s family has UK football season tickets and he’s been going to Kentucky games for five years. Now he has to keep an open mind about recruiting.
“You have to look at the pros and cons of each school and just compare what you like and don’t like about every school,” Smith said. “But growing up and going to Kentucky games like I did, that is a big-time offer for me to get.”
Kentucky is recruiting him as a safety. Other schools are recruiting him as a slot receiver. Some are just recruiting him as an athlete.
Hood, the former head coach at Eastern Kentucky, has obviously made a connection with Smith.
“He jokes that he would love to see me in blue being that I am practically a hometown kid and I have grown up going to games,” Smith, who played at Kroger Field last year when Boyle won the Class AAA state title, said. “I love coach Hood. He’s a good Christian guy. You can talk to him non-stop. We stay in contact. We get along good. He’s just fun to be around and is a coach I love being around.”
Smith said despite playing with a cast on his hand last week, he adjusted to game speed after one quarter and is just glad to be back playing. He had hoped to play a week earlier but the bone on his hand that goes to his ring finger had not healed enough. He hopes to have pin removed from the bone and then get the cast off by the time the playoffs start in November.
He’ll have the cast on Friday night when Boyle plays at Western Hills and goes against Wandale Robinson, one of the state’s best players. Robinson leads the state in scoring with 212 points and has rushed for 1,667 yards and 25 scores and caught 17 passes for 367 yards and seven scores. He’s thrown for a touchdown, returned an interception for a score and had two kick returns for touchdowns. On defense, he has 85 tackles, including nine tackles for loss.
“It’ss hard to control somebody like him,” Smith said. “He is a big D-1 player. We can limit what he does but he will still make big plays and get his yards and touchdowns. He’s that good.
“I think we can limit what he does. We have a good line and good linebackers. (Boyle) coach (Chuck) Smith is the king of stopping the run but Wandale is fantastic. He’s just crazy good but it will be fun going against him.”