Athens Drive offensive tackle faces the nation’s best defensive lineman and survives

tstevens@newsobserver.comSeptember 9, 2013 

PREPFBATHENS-SP-082813-TEL

Athens Drive's Tyler Smith (64) against Broughton during the second half Thursday, August 29, 2013 at Athens Drive High School. Athens Drive won 22-21. Smith, an offensive tackle made his varsity football debut against Greenville Rose's Kentavius Street, who is the top-ranked defensive lineman in the country.

TRAVIS LONG — tlong@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Athens Drive offensive tackle Tyler Smith wasn’t scared when he lined up across from Greenville J.H. Rose defensive end Kentavius Street in the season opener, although a lot of people told him he should be.

Smith isn’t a little guy. The junior is 5-foot-11 and weighs 238 pounds. He also has some moxie.

Kentavius Street, 6-3, 265 pounds, is ranked the No. 1 defensive line prospect in the country by many recruiting experts. He has baskets full of recruiting propaganda. He has scholarship offers from all over the country.

Street is one of the most highly recruited players in the country. Smith was starting his first varsity game when they squared off a couple of weeks ago.

“All week before the game, people were saying ‘Kentavius Street. Kentavius Street. He’s an All-American. He’s going to kill you.’ Whatever,” Smith said.

Naturally, Smith had a healthy does of respect for the Rose all-star, but he didn’t want to go into the game mentally defeated.

“I looked at it as he was another high school football player. He breathes air, the same air that I breathe,” Smith said. “He was just another player breathing air just like me.”

Street and his Rose teammates dominated Athens in the opener in Greenville, winning 35-7.

Coach Chris Martin said it was a thorough beating.

“We couldn’t do much with them at all,” Martin said. “It wasn’t just Street. They’ve got great linebackers and tremendous team speed. It was a tough situation to be breaking in a new quarterback. Rose is so quick.”

Smith said the overall speed of the Rose defense was decisive.

“They all swarm to the ball. That was something that we couldn’t handle,” he said. “They really covered the receivers well and it was hard to find someone to throw to.”

As far as the individual match-up between the varsity rookie starter and one of the nation’s best, Smith said he thought he did all right.

“He was much bigger and stronger than me. I could tell that right away,” he said.

“When he’d bull-rush me, I’d back up and then push back like I was suppose to. I think I did OK. On the running plays, I think I did my job most of the time.”

Stevens: 919-829-8910

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