As Signing Day approaches, one of the biggest storylines Louisville fans are following involves Seneca quarterback DaMarcus Smith. Smith, an extremely talented three-star prospect, has been committed to Louisville seemingly since the moment Charlie Strong was hired. Despite attempts from other schools to sway him, DaMarcus has remained firmly committed to the Cardinals.
However, that firmness has been tested recently with the commitment and subsequent early enrollment of the highly touted Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is already on campus taking classes and will begin his quest for the starting quarterback job when Spring practice gets rolling. DaMarcus attempted to enroll early by taking accelerated courses with the hopes of doing the same as Bridgewater, but according to reports, fell just shy of qualifying.
Even after failing to qualify for early enrollment, Smith remained committed to Louisville and planned on enrolling during the first available summer semester.
Now, after taking a visit to Central Florida, DaMarcus has told multiple outlets he is seriously thinking about his options. Naturally, Cardinal fans are worried about the potential of losing a highly touted local prospect. Not to mention the fact, losing Smith would leave the Cards with just Will Stein and Bridgewater at the quarterback position.
You might be wondering, Central Florida? Really?
While UCF is not what anyone would term a traditional power, Central Florida is an up and coming program and have some pretty good selling points. First, UCF is located in Orlando, Florida. You could spend four or five years at college in worse spots.
Second, UCF has very good football facilities and is starting to become an attractive destination for recruits. Last year, Louisville had a commitment from four-star offensive lineman Torrian Wilson, but lost him on Signing Day to UCF. Finally, the Knights are coming off an 11-3 year in which they beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.
My point is, just because Central Florida does not sound like a school Louisville should be losing recruits to, it doesn’t mean they aren’t a legit option. The Knights have a lot of positive momentum right now.
Having said that, I still think Louisville is the best spot for DaMarcus Smith.
Even though Teddy Bridgewater will have the advantage of Spring practice, there’s no guarantee Bridgewater will win the starting job, much less win the job after only a few weeks of practice in April. Charlie Strong has already said Will Stein is the quarterback until someone beats him, so for those anointing Bridgewater as the starter, realize Stein has to lose the job first.
Let’s also remember UCF went 11-3 behind freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey, oddly enough, also from Miami, Florida, like Bridgewater.
So if you’re DaMarcus Smith, do you go to Central Florida and compete with a sophomore who just went 11-3 as a freshman? In other words, a legit incumbent. Or, do you take your chances against a talented incoming freshman and a steady, but limited junior?
Who knows? I can honestly see all sides to this issue.
In my opinion, I think DaMarcus is getting a bit caught up in the hype of Teddy Bridgewater. He sees an extremely talented and highly regarded quarterback and naturally, starts to question whether or not he can beat him for the job.
At the same time, DaMarcus has to realize if he wants to play at a place that intends to be a major force in college football, whether it be Louisville, UCF, Illinois, or wherever, there will be talented competition.
My hope is that DaMarcus realizes Louisville is his best option and takes the mindset of Teddy’s going to have to beat me, not the other way around. Charlie Strong does not guarantee jobs to anybody. Regardless of seniority, the best player plays. There is no doubt in my mind DaMarcus can win the job and will be given the chance to do so.
He has the talent to do it, but if he comes in with the wrong mindset, he won’t.
DaMarcus and his family are set to meet with Strong this week to talk about things. If I had to bet right now, I’d bet on DaMarcus sticking with Louisville.
But this is recruiting, anything is liable to happen.