NEWPORT NEWS — On the field, David Smith is an athlete who is capable of playing just about anywhere. In fact, he pretty much does on defense, where he knows the sets and game plan nearly as well as the coaching staff.
In the classroom, he's a International Baccalaureate student who has a 3.6 grade point average and is scheduled to graduate in December — as in, three months from now.
No wonder his list of scholarship offers includes a wide variety of schools. And no wonder Warwick football coach Juan Jackson loves having him around.
"David is a specimen," he said. "He's a very versatile athlete and self disciplined. He's smart. He's the total package."
The Raiders' roster simply lists Smith (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) as an athlete. You can expect to see him at defensive end or any linebacker spot on defense. Though if you charted it, he spends most of his time at middle linebacker.
"I think he could even play free safety," Jackson said.
Offensively, he is primarily used at tight end. Though he can also play fullback. And, probably, tailback in a pinch.
"It's always been like that," Smith said. "They put me where it's the best fit for the team to succeed. They put me in the middle because I know the defense better than anybody on the team because I've been playing the longest. I can see the field and read things better.
"Every year I played, I was more of a leader of the team because that's my personality. I don't like losing, and I just try to spread that to my team. I like being in the middle of the field because you have the best opportunity to make tackles on both sides of the field."
Smith takes on plenty of responsibility, but he doesn't mind. In fact, he's become used to it. IB, rigorous and demanding, requires responsibility.
Smith, who is zoned for Menchville, came to Warwick's IB program as a freshman. There have been days, or long nights, that made him wonder why he did this to himself. But here he is, about to graduate high school — and, perhaps, enroll in college — early.
"IB opens a lot of doors because people know how hard the program is," he said. "It helps me a lot, especially with my grades. It's helped with my focus."
It's also helped him learn to juggle an intense workload. Aside from football, which gobbles up a lot of his time in the fall, Smith also runs track and was part of a 3,200-relay team that broke the Eastern Region record at last spring's outdoor meet.
"He also used to play basketball, so he could be a three-sport athlete," Jackson said. "He's an exceptional athlete."
When he was a kid, he was known around his neighborhood as "The Bus," as in former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis. When he first started playing rec ball, his position was … wait for it … tackle. Somebody noticed his athleticism and switched him to fullback. Then running back. Then linebacker. And then … well, wherever.
It's that versatility, along with his grades, that are attracting the college recruiters. Among the schools he said have offered so far are Old Dominion, William and Mary, Hampton, Temple, Richmond, Navy and Marshall.
He plans to make a commitment as early as next month. And if all goes well, he would like to enroll for winter semester.