Louisville gives Smith shot at QB
By CHRIS WHITE
Hardaway’s Marcus Smith just wanted a chance to be a college quarterback, and Louisville coach Charlie Strong was willing to give him a shot.
Smith signed with the Cardinals on Wednesday. He was joined on national signing day by teammates Joey Peacock and Ryan White, who signed with Huntingdon (Ala.) and Hawks baseball player Easton Gilbert, who signed with Andrew College during a ceremony on at the school.
“It just feels great,” Smith said. “I’m just glad that I’m going to a school that I know I’m going to play quarterback with.”
Smith long held onto an offer from Florida, and it was through the Gators’ recruiting efforts he first met Strong, who was then Florida’s defensive coordinator. Strong was hired as Louisville’s head coach in December and got a commitment from Smith in January after bringing him in for a visit.
Smith finished 2009 with more than 1,800 yards passing and 14 touchdowns while rushing for four more scores, earning second-team Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City honors for the 2009 season. He said national signing day was a relief after a tiring recruiting process.
“It just gets all the pressure off of me,” Smith said. “I can focus on school and focus on everything else I need to focus on. I don’t have to focus on what college I’m going to or anything. I can just say I’m going to Louisville.”
Peacock and White had played together since they were freshman at Hardaway and said they were excited to be able to go to Huntingdon, where they planned to room together.
“(Huntingdon) just felt like it was the right place for us,” White said. “It felt like a good fit.”
Gilbert said he hoped to work on his pitching while at Andrew in hopes of eventually transferring to a larger college.
“I like that it was small, so it was a good place to go and get started,” said Gilbert, who batted .303 with four doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs as a junior. “It’s a good place to go if I want to get better and then maybe transfer somewhere bigger.”
Gilbert pitches and plays first base for Hardaway, finishing 2-4 with 24 strikeouts in 28 innings with a 5.75 ERA. He said he expects to pitch and play first and third at Andrew.