Even as a freshman last season, Stantavious Smith stood out like a man among boys. Entering 2020, Smith’s god-given abilities, work ethic, and charismatic attitude represent the optimism in the future of the Dougherty football program.
Not many players make an instant impact as a freshman. But then again, not many freshmen are 6-foot-3 and nearly 245 pounds.
While Dougherty High School struggled to get going in 2019, Smith was the definitive bright spot. The talented freshman possessed many traits, but not a lot of kids are blessed with his raw power. Smith caught the coaching staff’s attention early in the season and was named a starting varsity player midway through the season.
He’s quick off the line of scrimmage and uses that strength in his hands to outmuscle a lot of offensive linemen. If he can do that at just 15, we can only imagine what his ceiling might be.
“This offseason has been great for me,” Smith said. “I am just working on getting better every day. Every day is an opportunity to get faster and stronger, and I’m also working on developing more pass rush moves for this upcoming season.”
Of course that is the area where Smith can continue to develop. If he can refine his technique and develop a few go-to moves to get past offensive linemen, then the state of Georgia doesn’t stand a chance. Smith said he watches a lot of Denver Broncos star Von Miller, who has been one of the premier pass rushers in the league for a decade.
“He’s just been dominant for so many years,” Smith said. “I love the way he can use a mixture of speed and power. That’s how I want to play the position.”
Smith is a rising star and has caught the attention of many major programs at the collegiate level. He already has nine offers from Power Five programs including Maryland, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida State, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Louisville. It isn’t just his game, but his overall joy on the field. College Football Today also releases a yearly class rankings and ranked Smith as the top defensive end in the class of 2023. Smith is one of those kids who enjoys doing what he does best: playing football. But he understands what the Trojans are trying to do to get better in 2020.
“When I played in middle school and growing up, all I really did was run up and down the field,” Smith said. “My coaches at Dougherty are doing a great job of teaching me the game and how to be a man on and off the field.”
Dougherty went 2-8 last season, struggling to get going in the 4A classification. With a new look region, there’s reason for optimism in the Albany area. The 2019 Trojans were a young team filled with inexperience. The 2022 class and Smith’s 2023 class are brimming with talent, and Dougherty is a team that can definitely surprise some people in the next couple of seasons.
“We’ve been working hard during the offseason,” Smith said. “First it was just Zoom meetings, but now the line has been meeting and working with face masks to improve and get better. We’re all just working to improve our craft.”
Dougherty begins their season Sept. 3 at Spencer High School.
Written by: Kyle Grondin