High School Football

College football’s heavy-hitters come calling for Timberline High grad Riley Smith

Riley Smith.
Riley Smith.

Scholarship offers did not pour in for Riley Smith during his senior year of high school football.

He graduated from Timberline in 2012 with a single offer to play for Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.

“I was really, really small,” Smith said. “I probably said I weighed 160 pounds, but I was really more like 150.”

Time has been good to Smith.

The now 6-foot, 192-pound slot receiver at Ventura College in California has accumulated 17 offers from FBS programs over the past few months.

It all started with a Twitter message from Alabama wide receivers coach Billy Napier on April 23.

“After that it just kind of blew up, once people figured out that I had an offer from (Alabama),” Smith said.

Thirty minutes after speaking with Napier, Florida contacted Smith with an offer, and then USC a few days after that.

As of this week, Smith said he has added offers from Arizona State, Arkansas State, BYU, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Fresno State, Georgia State, Idaho State, Oklahoma, San Diego State, San Jose State, South Alabama, Texas State, Texas Tech and Utah State.

Smith is hopeful there are more offers to come, as he was invited to attend a Boise State camp Friday and Saturday, and has an unofficial visit at Oregon scheduled for Monday.

He said his top five schools — in no particular order — are Alabama, Arizona State, Boise State, Oregon and USC.

“If you just work hard and continue to chase your dreams, it can happen to anybody,” Smith said. “That’s the main thing I want to pass down to young kids or teenagers, that anything can happen if you work for it.”

At Snow College, Smith severely sprained his left ankle before the season started, and was told recovery would take at least six weeks. The Badgers wanted to redshirt Smith, but he decided to return to Boise and rehabilitate.

Instead of returning to the Badgers, Smith reached out to Ventura and was invited to join the team.

Smith caught 30 passes for just under 500 yards and six touchdowns in his freshman year at Ventura in 2013, but coach Steve Mooshagian said Smith had a lot of growing up to do, particularly in the classroom.

“He had a rough start. He had to grow up in a lot of ways, so we gave him a little tough love,” Mooshagian said. “His work ethic in the weight room and on the field was never a question, it was just he had to buckle down academically and actually put the same effort in the classroom as he did in training.”

Smith did not play for Ventura in 2014, but continued to take classes at the junior college to catch up academically. Coming out of high school, Smith was a partial qualifier, which means he must earn his associate’s degree before moving on to a Division I program.

With his academics back on track, Smith will be a versatile starter on offense for the Pirates this fall, playing anywhere from outside receiver to inside receiver to the backfield to special teams.

“He’s one of the fastest kids I’ve ever coached, and probably one of the best blocking receivers I’ve ever had,” Mooshagian said. “He really separates himself, and that’s why schools like Oregon like him, too, because he’s becoming a complete player.”

Smith has a 40 time of 4.37 seconds, a vertical of 41 inches, benches 315 pounds and squats 475.

While Mooshagian is proud of Smith’s progress, he was quick to point out that nothing is guaranteed.

“Early offers are exactly that. It’s a starting point. It shows you that they’re interested in you, but just as quickly as they like you, they can take it away,” Mooshagian said. “So you’ve got to stay humble, and you’ve got to stay focused.”