The University of Missouri football program has been eyeing Vianney High School Junior Markel Smith for some time.
After attending a camp this summer at the University of Missouri, the football program's coaching staff made him an offer. Smith told them he wouldn't make a decision until the end of Vianney's 2012 season. After a season-ending loss Wednesday to the Jackson High School Indians, Smith made good on his word, notifying Mizzou Thursday night that he would become a Tiger in 2014.
Smith has been a powerhouse for the Griffins and a standout in the St. Louis high school football scene.
Before going into Vianney's final game, Smith led the St. Louis area with 2,342 yards rushing through 10 games, had scored 29 touchdowns and was averaging 9.1 yards per carry, the Southeast Missourian says in a recap of Wednesday's game. Against the Indians, Smith rushed for 181 yards on 31 carries and scored one touchdown, according to the Southeast Missourian.
Vianney Football Coach Mike Diffley notes that Smith has all the tangibles of a great running back. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 210 pounds and can run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.
But, according to Diffley, his natural abilities are only part of what makes him such an attractive player.
"Probably what (the coaching staff at Mizzou) are most impressed about is his attitude. He really is a hard working guy and not afraid to be challenged. He's a wonderful kid in terms of coachability and attitude," Diffley said.
There hasn't been a lot of press about Smith's commitment to Mizzou, likely because he didn't publicize the decision, a move Diffley says speaks to the young athlete's character.
"He's humble and you can tell that by the way he committed. There was no hubbub, no hype," Diffley said. "He doesn't make it all about him. He is part of the team. He does his job really well and is a great kid to coach."