When visiting a D'Iberville summer workout, it's not hard to find a certain Warrior leading the way, rising junior offensive lineman Louis Paul Smith.
"They look up to me, which I take (seriously)," Smith said. "I've tried to be a leader in and out the weight room, in class and in school, in everything I can do."
"I always feel like with great gifts, you have great responsibility," D'Iberville head coach Eric Collins said. "Louis certainly has great gifts."
After helping lead the Warriors to a 2016 Region 4, 6A championship, Smith slowly emerged on college football radars. He received his first offer from Divsion II Kentucky Christian, and began rising up the ranks from there. The 6'4, 294 pounder now holds offers from Southern Miss, Nicholls State, Troy, and most recently, ULM, and is rated as one of the top lineman in the state for the Class of 2019.
"Man, it's just exciting," Smith said of his most recent offer from the Warhawks. "All this hard work is starting to pay off. I work day in and day out just for colleges to notice me, and it feels like it's finally happening."
With two full prep seasons to go, Smith has plenty of time to keep raking in those offers. He's attended camps at Auburn, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, and says these SEC programs are very interested in his services.
"It's really exciting for me," Smith said. "As far as what it means, I'm just gonna stay on my study track and just help my team get better (and) win a state championship."
Collins says Smith's mental approach to the game is a big reason for the collegiate interest.
"Not only is he a great athlete, but he's a student of the game," Collins said. "Our center makes most of our calls and so (Smith's) gotta make the calls on a lot of plays. Most of the time, he's 100 percent right."
Smith is currently on track to graduate in December 2018 to take advantage of early enrollment at whatever school he chooses. The microscope will only get larger between now and then, but the Warriors center is staying humble through it all.
"You know, sometimes it gets hard, you get caught up in all the hype of everybody recruiting and wanting you," Collins said. "But really and truthfully, I think he's been really grounded."
"They remind me, hey, you're 16 years old," Smith said. "You're not a super-star. I'm just trying to stay humble. I'd like to thank my family for that. I'm just trying to stay humble and be a high school football player."
Smith told WLOX he plans to make his decision sometime in the early part of his senior season, and said he would love to play for a school within a few hours' drive of his home here on the Coast.
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