Bolingbrook standout wide receiver Kendall Smith has big plans this season for his Raiders. We also talk his underrated teammates and why he chose the Illini.
Wt: 175 lbs
Commitment status: Illinois
LPI: What were the most important things you did this offseason and are now doing in practice so you can improve this season?
KS: I trained at EFT and played 7on7 with them as well. Its up by Deerfield so it’s a bit of a drive, but it really helped me stay sharp and get ready for this season. Landon Cox, the wide receiver coach, really helped me improve running my routes and my route releases.
LPI: Where have you camped/showcased at this summer?
KS: The opening was the only one. I was very blessed to receive an offer from Illinois earlier this year so I didn’t camp much over the summer, just did 7on7 to prep for this season.
LPI: Your list of offers runs pretty deep with Illinois, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan to name a few. What made you choose the Illini out of all those schools?
KS: They were one of my first few offers. I think they were the third school to offer me. They jumped on me early so I really appreciate that loyalty and I’ve always loved the Big 10 too. It’s my home state school, not too far away and Lovie Smith is there as well. I’m really thankful for all the offers, but I’m happy with my commitment.
LPI: What was it like getting your first offer? How did you feel?
KS: My first offer was Bowling Green and I remember it like it was yesterday. Coach Morrison saw our work out and he came to talk to myself and Izayah Green-May after we finished. 30 minutes later Izayah got a call and got offered by them. A bit later my HC, coach Ivlow, called me and said I had to call the coach at Bowling Green. I called the coach Morrison and he offered me my first scholarship. I was beyond happy and the first thing I did was smile. I immediately told my mom, she freaked out with joy, my entire family was so happy for me.
LPI: What’re your personal goals for this season?
KS: Other than help this team win my main goal is to be the best player I can be. We have a lot of young guys with a lot of talent. They can be in the spot I’m in and I just want to help them out and pass it down. Personally, good stats would be great, but a championship is the ultimate goal. I don’t have an exact goal for stats, but I want to be better than I was last year.
LPI: What are your greatest strengths?
KS: I’m very physical and I’m very good at finding holes in the defense. I’ve got strong hands, wide eyes and that ability to always come down with the ball.
LPI: What game, if any, do you guys have circled on your calendar this year?
KS: We really just take it one week at a time. We play very tough competition in Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln Way East so if we can win those games we’ll be in a good spot in conference and it will help us get ready for the playoffs.
LPI: You guys finished last year with a record of 5-4 and are now 0-1 after facing a very tough Glenbard West squad. What are you and the Raiders focusing on more this year to get back to the playoffs and hopefully make a deep run?
KS: We’re just taking it week by week. It was a good test to play Glenbard West early and it’s good that we got the mistakes out of the way early. You see good teams like Glenbard and they are a model of consistently so I’m glad we got to play a good team like them the first week. To be the best you have to beat the best, so I’m looking forward to playing more good teams.
LPI: You have a very talented team with players such as yourself Izayah Green-May and I’Shawn Stewart to name a few. Who are some of your teammates that you believe have a chance to play at the next level?
John Ivlow: He’s a great player. He’s one of the smartest kids on the field. I could be wrong, but I think he had 18 pancakes against Glenbard West. He’s also a great leader. Some coaches knock him because he’s not real tall, but he can play D1.
Joe Coates: Joe’s a dynamic athlete. He can run, throw, catch, tackle. He can do anything and everything on the field.
Dashaun Mallory: He’s a beast. He just has to stay focused, keep everything together and the sky’s the limit for him.
Jeremiah Lebron: I don’t understand why he doesn’t have offers. He used to be homeschooled so he’s a little behind in his recruiting, but I think he has what it takes to play at the next level.
Jazontae Howard: He’s a dynamic athlete, very shifty, your prototypical speed back. He makes great cuts, has great vision and hits the hole very well.
Zyon Bell: He has the size, speed and athletic ability to play at the next level. He doesn’t understand how good he can be yet. He’s been doing really well early on and is going to tap into that this year. Schools better look out for him this year.