Geno Smith had an impressive high school football resume.
Not only did the Miramar (FL) quarterback throw for 3,089 yards and 30 touchdowns and rush for an additional 300 yards in his senior year, but Smith was named the 6A player of the year, a Florida Mr. Football finalist, and a prestigious Elite 11 quarterback.
Four years later, the West Virginia quarterback has returned to Southern California to serve as a counselor to the 2012 Elite 11 finalists and has eagerly embraced the opportunity.
"Being a counselor here is just a chance to give back. When I came out here, I had great counselors like Matthew Stafford and Colt McCoy, guys who were in college getting ready for the league. Now I have the chance to give back and do the same thing, as well as get some work in, and it's in beautiful California," he said.
Smith threw for 4385 yards and 31 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions last season, but as he enters his senior season with the Mountaineers, is putting in the necessary work towards having an even stronger performance this fall.
"I work on everything. Camp starts in about two weeks and I've been telling the guys here that I'm going hard with them. I've got to get prepared. We've got a long grind, a long season, and I'm just getting any tips I can pick up from these coaches so I can show that I'm on point when I step into camp," he said.
As the camp winds down, Smith has been impressed with the level of high school talent.
"All of the quarterbacks are standing out. They're better than I was when I was in high school!" he laughed. "I'm looking forward to seeing these guys in college. They've got good stuff going on."
The Elite 11 has transitioned a bit since Smith was a camper and the aspect of chalk talk knowledge and the ability to break down film have been added to the selection criteria of the final eleven; the quarterback says this step is key to becoming an all-around quarterback.
"Watching the film prepares you for the next level. That's what it's all about when you get to college. It's more than just coming out and throwing the football. These guys are working hard; Trent Dilfer is out here leading this thing and he has them going in the right direction," he said.
Smith continues to practice what he preaches, as he knows that, with West Virginia's move to the Big 12, many eyes will be on him this season.
"It's a new challenge," he said of the move. "We have new teams we've never played before and we get the chance to go to some new venues, go to Texas and Oklahoma, all these different places and play these storied programs that I've heard so much about. I look forward to it."
The anticipation surrounding Smith's senior season has set the college football world abuzz. Already named to preseason watch lists, including the Davey O'Brien Award, the Manning Award, and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, Smith is taking everything in, yet refuses to let himself be pressured by the hype.
"I don't feel any pressure. The one thing I know from being in college is things like that, watch lists and all that, don't mean a thing at all. My thing is I just want to make sure that I go out there and play football, not worry about the critics or anything else," he said.
With camp quickly approaching, Smith feels very optimistic about the fall.
"I'm looking forward to the new challenges and the chance to prove myself and the chance to test myself, get a little bit of exposure and let the world know what the Mountaineers are about.
"Expect wins. We're looking to win it all this year," he said.