Those in tune with WVU football recruiting are already familiar with the name Steven Smothers. To the casual fan, Smothers will be a household name in as little as two years.
Coming from Baltimore, the hometown of former Mountaineer great Tavon Austin, Smothers dominated the prep ranks in and around the Charm City. He showcased similar skills to that of Austin in high school.
The hope is for Smothers to equalize Austin’s performances in Morgantown. That will be hard to do as Austin holds many offensive records at WVU.
So, it’ll be Smothers’ task to break them.
He certainly has the talent to go with the hype.
From his highlight tape, he looks like a polished athlete going up against a bunch of kids playing football for the first time. He has excellent field vision and makes his presence felt immediately when he touches the ball.
At Franklin High School in Maryland, Smothers was the heart and soul of a pair of state championship runs. He was regarded by Rivals.com as the No. 15 wide receiver in Maryland and the No. 30 athlete in the country.
His size at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds immediately draws comparisons to Austin, who is now starring with the Los Angeles Rams.
It was only natural that Smothers picked the Mountaineers over schools such as Connecticut, Marshall, Kansas and Illinois; even top programs like Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State and Alabama.
Smothers was a perfect fit for the Mountaineers, and he knew it.
"“I was pretty much committed to the school,” he said of West Virginia. “I wasn’t really committed to the coaches. I mean yeah, I like the coaches and I’m happy with the coaches but I was really committed to the school, so when you’re committed to a school, it’s really hard to swing to a different program, so it was here and there a little but for the most part I was really rock solid with West Virginia.”"
The Mountaineers currently have good depth at the wide receiver position. And, the team may transition back into a pass-heavy team, as opposed to the balanced attack WVU implemented in 2015.
For the Mountaineers, Ka’Raun White, Daikiel Shorts and Shelton Gibson are locks at WR in 2016. Jovon Durante, who started some games as a freshman last season, is suspended for spring activities. That could give Smothers an easy in for early playing time.
Durante was effective last season appearing in 12 games. He caught 24 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns.
Smothers can be that type of player this season.
But first, he has some unfinished business to handle. Smothers will get one last crack to play a high school football game when he takes part in the historic Big 33 game this June. The game, which will have its 59th edition at Hersheypark Stadium, pits Maryland against Pennsylvania in a battle of the top prep stars.
The game has sent many players to the collegiate level, as well as the professional ranks and even Super Bowl Champions.
Smothers could be next on that track.
"“It’s a big tradition,” Smothers said. “You look at the rosters, you’ve got guys who went on to play in college and in the NFL. This is a little bit bigger than the Crab Bowl. This is really a state vs. a state game … and it’s my last high school game and I’m playing with some of my friends again, but it’s pretty much about the tradition of the game.”"
In the Maryland All-Star Game, affectionately known as the Crab Bowl, Smothers caught two touchdown passes and was part of SportsCenter’s Top 10 with an amazing acrobatic reception.