2023’s Keelan Smith wants to make an impact like Ray Lewis | Youth1

2023’s Keelan Smith wants to make an impact like Ray Lewis

Keelan Smith is one of the best players from the Orlando, FL area in the Class of 2023.


The 5-foot-10,175-pound Smith, who attends Boone Middle School, is an imposing middle linebacker.


Smith has played for the North East Rattlers and Orange County Outlaws during his outstanding youth football career.


Smith has earned plenty of recognition, such as:


Sixth and 7th grade FBU standout, 6th and 7th grade FBU Top Gun  6th grade A11 All-Stars, Under Armour Middle School All-American Camp invite, The Process All-American Game, Future Stars Game.


Smith is humbled by the recognition and the opportunity to compete against the best of the best.


“It means that I can complete at with at a high level and can be mentioned with the best out there. I just want to show I belong on the field with them and can play with them,” Smith said. “It was different. During the course of a regular season each team will have a few studs and the rest role players. But everyone there is a stud. Have to have a short memory because they are here to make plays. I just need to make them when my number is called.”


No matter the opponent, on each snap Smith is determined to give it his all.


Smith is going all out.


The motor is always at full throttle whenever Smith steps between the lines.


“My mindset is that defense wins championships,” Smith said. “Go until the whistle repeats. I will not fold under pressure. I live for the tough assignment.”


Smith has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the gridiron. Smith tells why he enjoys the game of football so much.


“I get to express my feelings,” Smith said. “I love the physical part of the game.”


Smith has learned many valuable lessons from playing football that he applies to his everyday life.


The main one is applying perspective to all situations.


“Never quit,” Smith said. “You quit in practice when it gets rough you will quit in the game when it gets tough and you will quit in life when it gets tough.”


Smith recalls his favorite football memory.


“This past 2017 season ending in a 16-1 season winning a Super Bowl and losing to the No. 1 team in the nation, the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes in state finals,” Smith said. “I came to a team and worked my way into the starting job at middle linebacker and was contributing factor on one of the best defenses in our league.”


Kyle Smith has coached his son off and on for 9 years with the North East Rattlers and Orange County Outlaws organization.


Mr. Smith explains the best parts of his son’s game.  


“He is a throwback player not scared to stick his nose in the mix. He’s a real run stopper,” Mr. Smith said. “He is getting used to trusting his eyes and has long arms so he is really coming into his own on dealing with bigger linemen.”


Smith takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Smith makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.


“In the heat of the game mistakes happen and if a teammate makes a bad play I tell them to get it back on the next play, keep their head up and don’t get down on yourself,” Smith said. “I tell them to never quit.”


Mr. Smith raves that his son is the consummate teammate that every locker room needs to be successful.


“No man left behind,” Mr. Smith said. “Laps and sprints and just general conditioning he will finish his and then go back and help the last man. His belief is we are only as strong as our weakest link.”


Smith is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.


“My coaches tell me that I don’t have to make every play and to trust in my teammates to make plays,” Smith said. “The best advice they’ve given is ‘believe in yourself.’”


Mr. Smith is an advocate of his son’s capabilities.


“The whole season he was our defensive play caller on the field,” Mr. Smith said.


In addition to making clutch plays, Smith also has a high level of football IQ as well.


Smith has excellent football awareness that puts him in position to thrive.


“He has great play recognition and knows how to see what an offense is trying to set up and is vocal on his play calls,” Mr. Smith said. “He knows how to shift lines to strong side and roll the coverage or to the passing strengths.”


Smith is on the grind to perfect and hone his craft in any way possible.


“Grinding slow but grinding still,” Mr. Smith said. “He is always doing little things to get better. Now he is going to camps and they are telling him what he needs to work on and he goes home and does just that.”


Mr. Smith shares why he compares his son to these legends.


“Mike Singletary or Ray lewis because they had real knowledge of the game and were tough physical players,” Mr. Smith said. “They played the game with true love, heart, and passion.”


Smith patterns his style of play after Lewis.


“Because he played the game with passion and emotions,” Smith said.


Smith is constantly striving for greatness in everything that he does.


“I want to play well enough to get a free education,” Smith said. “I love the game and just would love to be a student athlete in college while I get my education.”


Before the pros, Smith dreams of one day becoming the next great University of Texas or TCU player.  


“Because I am from Texas and have family that played at both and want to continue the family tradition and my family in Texas have not seen me play,” Smith said.


Smith lists science as his favorite subject in school.


“Because I want to be a veterinarian and that is something I know I will need for what I want to do,” Smith said.


Mr. Smith outlines the next areas of improvement that will take his son’s game to the next level.


“His cover skills man coverage,” Mr. Smith said. “He has been doing 7-on-7 and working on 1-on-1 in space and speed and agility drills. He is working to be an every down linebacker.”


Mr. Smith believes the sky is the limit as long as his son continues to stay hungry.  


“If he keeps working I feel his goals as a player and person will be met,” Mr. Smith said. “His dream is to be a student athlete and play college football. I believe he will.”



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