Originally Published: April 3, 2013

Mr. Smith goes to Vanderbilt

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- With two legit BCS football prospects in their household, the Smith family could brag with the best of them. They choose not to.

But trying to goad the brothers and football prospects from Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Oakland into saying which is the better football player might be easier than actually beating them on the field. They'll deflect, simply smile and say they're basically equal athletes.

It's mostly the same for other endeavors. Basketball is perhaps the one activity that might prompt the most benign form of trash-talking. Sort of. Josh Smith, a 2015 linebacker prospect, jokingly said he was the better hoopster.

"No sir. No sir," said his older brother, Emmanuel Smith, who committed to Vanderbilt last week. "That's always me."

When asked to retort, Josh grinned and replied, "Nah, it's not him. It's even."

The Smiths' father isn't surprised by the lack of lip. Demetrius Smith, a longtime police officer, has long demanded as much.

"I'm always teaching them to not be boastful," he said. "It's not about yourself. It's about being humble. Appreciate the opportunity you have presented to you. We tried to instill that into them since they were little kids. Always be humble. Let other people talk about them."

Those in the college football recruiting world are already chatting about the brothers. Emmanuel committed to Vanderbilt over scholarship offers from Louisville, Oregon State and Tennessee. Josh, just a sophomore, has a scholarship offer from Vandy and strong interest from the Volunteers.

Emmanuel's commitment to Vanderbilt is significant on its own. He's a bona fide SEC prospect. Of course, his decision could be even more significant if his younger brother eventually decides to be a Commodore. Time will tell if that's the case.

The elder Smith's commitment could have an immediate impact on 2014 prospects. Recently, Vanderbilt has won more recruiting battles against rival Tennessee than it had in recent memory. Tennessee's recent struggles, coupled with Vandy's improvement under coach James Franklin, have made the Commodores a worthy opponent on the recruiting trail.

But Tennessee's hiring of Butch Jones in December seemed to reverse the tide. Suddenly, the Volunteers were the hot team in the state, riding a wave of recent momentum fueled by top in-state prospects. But Emmanuel's commitment proved Vandy is still a force to be reckoned with. Adding Josh would be further proof that the Dores are no flash in the pan.

For more on the Smith brothers, click here.

Dave Hooker

Reporter, RecruitingNation

Florida's St. Thomas Aquinas sustains success

By Derek Tyson | ESPN.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- With a résumé that includes 23 straight playoff appearances, 83 playoff wins, seven state championships and two national championships (2008, 2010), St. Thomas Aquinas is arguably one of the top football programs in the nation.

St. Thomas Aquinas coaches
Courtesy of Tom MartinezA coaching staff that features three former NFL players has helped attract and develop talent at St. Thomas Aquinas.

Florida high school coaching legend George Smith, now the athletic director, helped build the Aquinas program into a national power and a recruiting hotbed in South Florida during his coaching tenure. In 34 years of coaching the Raiders, starting in 1972, Smith accumulated a 361-66-0 record that included six of the school's seven state titles and both of the national championships.

Smith also coached NFL players Tavares Gooden, Major Wright, Leonard Hankerson, Jeremy Cain, Marcus Gilbert, Richard Goodman, Sam Young, Geno Atkins and NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

After winning the national championship in 2010, Smith retired from the head coaching job, and defensive assistant Rocco Casullo was promoted. To say there was pressure on Casullo to win is quite the understatement. He said, however, that he knew exactly what he was walking into when he accepted the promotion. The new coach went on to finish 10-3 in his first year and 13-2, including a state championship, in his second year.

"I started here in 2002 and I was defensive coordinator for four years, and I'm not going to lie, the first year was tough in 2011," Casullo said. "We lost a lot from that national championship team, but we still made it to the regional finals, which is a great year for any other school.

"I think I put enough pressure on myself just being the type A personality that I am and the competitor that I am. We knew in 2012 that we had a good team with good senior leadership, and we start off 3-2 and everybody is hitting the panic button and saying things will never be the same. But I think people sometimes forget that it took Coach Smith 17 years to get to a state championship game, 18 years to win one, and I was fortunate enough to do it in Year 2. I really don't feel the pressure, though. I know what I'm capable of doing, and I know what my staff is capable of doing."

St. Thomas Aquinas has been able to sustain its success despite the coaching change. Other traditional South Florida powers -- Miami Northwestern, Carol City, Ely, Dillard, Central, Booker T. Washington, Miramar and Norland -- can't say the same thing. Casullo thinks the camaraderie on his coaching staff is what has allowed the Raiders to keep their program strong.

For more on St. Thomas Aquinas, click here.

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