Season recap: Tyler Smith
The pressure was on Wilson Area (Pa.) High quarterback Tyler Smith as he entered his senior season.
The 6-foot-5, 198-pounder was a sophomore starter for the Warriors two years ago and followed his promising varsity debut up with a standout junior campaign in 2008. As a senior last fall, the Maryland-bound Smith shook off that pressure and met a lofty set of expectations.
“He just was really, really consistent this year -- consistent with his leadership, with his passes, with his moving of our offense,” said Wilson coach Bret Comp. “He sort of went out and did what most people expected him to do, and sometimes that’s more pressure than anything. People want to be wowed and he simply carried through.”
Smith was 172-for-323 for 3,130 yards, 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He led the Warriors to an 11-1 record and their second straight league championship. Smith was named the first-team quarterback on Pennsylvania’s 3A all-state team.
Nothing Smith did on the field surprised Comp. He played to his potential and led the Warriors to another strong season. The physical tools that led Maryland, Akron, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn and others to offer Smith a scholarship were evident once again. Comp, however, took special note of Smith’s improved leadership skills.
“Just the intangibles got even better -- becoming an even better leader than he was, and he was a pretty good leader before that,” Comp said. “I don’t think he tried to take too many things on his own shoulders when things weren’t going too well. He’s always mature and stays within himself. When he was a sophomore, he had a tendency to throw gas on the fire when things weren’t going well. And he really got out of that mode altogether. He’s pretty polished, he’s pretty accomplished and he’s really cool under pressure.”
Smith may seem more ready to see early action than most incoming freshmen quarterbacks, and there’s certainly an opportunity available at Maryland. Chris Turner has exhausted his eligibility, leaving the Terps to enter the 2010 season with uncertainty at the position. Still, Comp thinks it might be a lot to ask of Smith to step in and compete immediately.
“Well I think obviously anytime you go from one level to the next, especially high school to major college football, that’s an enormous leap,” Comp said. “You’re talking about talent level, you’re talking about speed, especially, and you’re talking about a learning curve. I would expect with any major college, you’d want the kid to play catch-up mentally as much as he possibly can. It will probably take a year or two to decipher a lot of that and truly understand it.
“It would be cool if he would walk in and have the ability to compete for the job, but that’s probably unrealistic to say at this point. It’s a huge learning curve and there are lots of lessons to be learned along that education process. Plus, he’s going to go to college. He’ll have to budget his time between academics and athletics and learn a whole new set of responsibilities, so it’s an incredible transition. But because of his attitude and maturity level, he’s ready for the challenge.”
Smith has two more football games on his schedule before enrolling at Maryland -- the Team USA vs. The World contest on Jan. 30 and the Big 33 Classic, a Pennsylvania vs. Ohio all-star event scheduled for June 19. No matter the situation, Comp said Smith has a way of instilling confidence in his teammates whenever he steps under center.
“He’s the type of guy that, when he walked on the field, the entire team felt like, ‘Hey, we have a chance to win today.’ You don’t run into many players like that.”