Smothers lines up success for Poly

September 23, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

Poly's Sebastian Smothers doesn't fit the stereotype of a guy who's one of the better players on the area's second-ranked football team.

Not only did Smothers never play a down of organized football before his freshman season, but at 5 feet 11 and 235 pounds, he often finds himself fighting an uphill battle against larger opponents as the Engineers' defensive tackle.

But what Smothers lacks in massiveness, he makes up for in strength, speed and guile.

Smothers employs his low center of gravity and quickness to churn past bigger adversaries. Once in the backfield, no one is safe from Smothers, who runs the 40-yard -- in 4.7 seconds.

"He's very quick and stocky. And because he's got excellent technique and uses his hands well, he's got great pursuit and goes wherever the ball does," said Poly coach Augie Waibel.

"Every defensive lineman's going to get blocked, but Sebastian's hard to work a trap on. He's the type of kid who doesn't stay blocked."

In victories over Mervo, 33-6, and Southwestern, 42-0, Smothers had two fumble recoveries and 12 tackles, 10 of which were unassisted.

"If you look at my stats for the first two games, I haven't done that much," said Smothers. "I've been a slacker compared to the rest of my teammates. They've carried us."

But Dunbar coach Stanley Mitchell, whose fifth-ranked Poets (1-0) visit Poly (2-0) today at 3:30, knows better than that.

Mitchell scouted the Engineers' shutout of Southwestern, paying special attention to Smothers, who scored the winning touchdown in last year's 12-6 victory over Dunbar by returning a third-quarter fumble recovery 34 yards.

It was a rare chance for Smothers to display the running skills he developed playing pick-up games.

"I was just a street ball player growing up. I never wanted to play organized football," said Smothers. "I wanted be running back or linebacker as a freshman, but the junior varsity coach said, 'You're a lineman and you'll stay that way.' In street ball, though, it was always the speed. It was show time."

It's show time again, if you ask teammate Darnell Dezurn, Poly's other defensive tackle.

"I scored a touchdown against Mervo, and [linebacker] Mike Brown scored against Southwestern," said Dezurn. "Now Dunbar's coming up, so it's time for a touchdown from Sebastian."

Against Dunbar last year, Smothers also played offense to help collar Dunbar's 6-5, 325-pound All-Metro lineman Derrick Player.

"He [Smothers] showed us last year what an outstanding player he is," said Mitchell. "You've got to respect his speed and the fact that he's a very intelligent player."

Smothers scored 1,150 on the Scholastic Assessment Test, carries a 3.2 grade average over courses such as calculus, advanced English, economics and computer animated drawing, and has designs on being a nuclear engineer.

Smothers, who amassed 60 tackles (34 solo) and eight sacks last season, has programs such as Tennessee, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Pitt and Maryland pursuing him.

Last year's Poly defense yielded fewer than five points a game with four shutouts. Beside City, a 21-20 loser, none of Poly's first 10 opponents scored more than six points last year.

Smothers recalls the winning touchdown from last year's Dunbar game as if it happened moments ago.

The play developed after All-Metro defensive end Rashad Kitchen laid a hit on Dunbar's 6-7 quarterback Rodney Elliott a split-second after Elliott received the snap from center.

The ball, jarred loose, rolled backward toward the end zone. Smothers scooped it and won a foot race with Dunbar's backfield.

"Rashad was actually upset because I got the fumble and he wanted it for himself," said Smothers. "I just picked up the ball and made sure I didn't bobble it. I knew no one would catch me."

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