Covering youth sports is unique in a variety of ways. Perhaps the best part of covering youth sports is to see how far these young athletes come in a relatively short period of time.
One athlete that we've covered for at least 3 years now at Youth1, is 2023 ATH/DB Sterling "Stu" Smith, who continues to prove he's a tantalizing talent on the rise.
When I first covered Stu a few years ago, he was an impressive young QB with the ability to play a variety of positions on the field. Since then, he's evolved into a lockdown Defensive Back and a player that can still impact the game at multiple positions.
Stu loves helping his team and winning, above all else.
"I love winning, and I love the competitive atmosphere that surrounds the sport of football. I enjoy being a leader and a part of a team culture. The opportunities I’ve had to travel across the country and meet new friends playing football, is a big reason I play," Smith told Youth1.com.
"I play football like a chess match. I enjoy strategy and reading offenses as much as I enjoy being a ball hawk," he added.
Standing at 5'7" 135 lbs., Smith prides himself in his coverage ability. His ability to lockdown one side of the field is remarkable. His instincts are superb, as he reads the offense and always knows the right spot to be in to make a play. Throw the rock in his direction at your own discretion. Smith is always a threat to make a big interception or pass break up.
"I play Cornerback and Safety. I enjoy being a ball hawk. I love reading the offense’s formations and anticipating where the ball is going. It is exhilarating every time I catch an interception," Smith said.
"There’s just something about baiting the QB to throw the ball my way that keeps me going!"
Smith is the type of person you want in your locker room. He's a leader, a hard worker, and a real talent. He plays hard every single down, and gives his teammates the best of him day in and day out.
"Footwork, hips, closing speed, break on the ball, ball skills, football I.Q., vertical, wingspan, quickness, always one step ahead, leadership, putting teammates in the right place to make plays, and killer instinct," Smith said of his strengths.
"Seem to know things are going to happen before they happen. As a former Quarterback, I am able to put myself in their shoes and determine where they are going with the ball. Fearlessness," he added.
The Indianapolis, Indiana native most recently played for Warren Central High School and InFocus/CE Stars (7v7). Stu was named to both Youth1's Elite101 as an 8th grader and more recently Youth1's Freshman450 as a 9th grader.
His impressive list of recent accolades include:
2x CORE Award Winner (School Excellence Award)
Top 25 out of 900+ (Warren Central Class Rank)
NextGen Future Freaks List
NextGen Elite 80
NextGen First Team All Show
Student Council Member
Warren Central Wrestling Varsity / Freshman
It's clear that Stu is progressing nicely, as he continues to thrive on and off the field.
"I am getting bigger, faster, stronger, and really stretching out. I continue to fine tune my footwork, press coverage, zone coverage, communication, and football I.Q. My leadership continues to develop, and I have become a better teammate," Smith said of his progression.
"I am working on my speed and strength. I don’t think you can ever stop working on speed, strength, and agility in this game," he added.
2023 ATH/DB Sterling Smith continues to perform at a high level on the football field. He can impact the game from a variety of positions, but has truly found his niche as a lockdown Defensive Back.
As someone whose covered Stu since his 6th grade season, I'm excited to see where his journey goes from here.
For more on Sterling Smith, check out his Youth1 Media Profile -> here.
View his highlights below.
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