Jack Smith moved from Indiana in November, just in in time to catch his future football team’s final two games of the season.
“They play the game a little faster, but that’s just football,” Smith said.
Smith is ready to lead Phoenix Mountain Pointe as maybe the most talented quarterback coach Norris Vaughan has had since he began building this powerhouse in 2009.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior-to-be is among 11 newcomers to the offense.
It’s new but talented, and Smith possesses the swagger, the blue-collar mentality, the athleticism to get the extra yards when a play breaks down that could help Mountain Pointe remain among the elite teams in Division I next season.
“He’s been looking awesome,” Vaughan said. “He was 21 for 22 (passing) the other day. He was 22 for 26 with colleges out here getting offers. He’s got a big arm and he can run. He’s fast. A great athlete.”
Smith this week after spring practices got offers from Montana and UNLV. He had an earlier offer from Northern Arizona.
Assistant coach Aaron Frana said that Arizona State likes him so much that it asked if Smith would be willing to move to safety.
“He said, ‘Coach, I’ll play wherever, football is football,’ ” Frana said. “There is no prima donna with him. He’s going to help a young offense.”
A young, but very athletic offense.
His main target figures to be junior-to-be Isaiah Pola-Mao, an All-Arizona safety last season with eight interceptions, who will be starting full-time this season at wide receiver, as well. But he’s not the only one. Vaughan likes slot receiver Ralph Roman, who played quite a bit last season, and Jaydon Brooks, who will be a junior.
Pola-Mao, a junior-to-be, recently got his academics in order that led to six Pac-12 offers in a week. He now has Notre Dame looking intently and getting close to offering.
“I feel great and really my motivation is making my parents proud, doing it for my family,” Pola-Mao said.
Smith sees the field like a coach, which makes sense. He was raised by a coach.
“I rely on just effort,” Smith said. “I expect my team to give it their full. My dad is the same way. If you make a mistake, make it fast, make it like you’re trying.”
Vaughan changes his offense and defense every year to fit in with the personnel. He’ll change this team up quite a bit. It may be in gun more than usual, at least more like that 14-0 state championship team two years ago that cracked the top 10 nationally with more than 2,500 passing yards.
The offensive line looks strong, led by Devin Howard, Eddie Rivas and sophomore-to-be Mason Honne.
Only four starters return on defense, but the secondary and linebackers are solid with the two defensive ends showing great promise. Vaughan said the only question marks at this point are at the defensive tackles.
But he acknowledges there is talent, and “by midseason, we hope to hit our stride.”
One other thing Mountain Pointe needs to plug in – a Week 2 opponent. The Pride only has nine teams scheduled so far. It could stay that way, unless the Arizona Interscholastic Association can soon find it another opponent.
Photos: High school spring football practices in Valley
Top players to watch
Isaiah Pola-Mao, 6-4, 195, S/WR, Jr.
Jack Smith, 6-1, 180, QB, Sr.
Devin Howard, 6-2, 270, OL, Sr.
Ke’Shawn Churchwell, 5-9, 185, DB/RB, Sr.
Vavrix Owens, 5-11, 200, LB, Sr.
Macarius Blount, 6-0, 180, RB/DB, Sr.
Coach Norris Vaughan’s camp outlook
“In spring, we try to teach the scheme and techniques and build a two-deep depth chart. We’ve got a lot of kids out there. We feel we’ve got good players. We’ve got a lot of kids who played a lot. It’s not like they’ve not played at all. We’re going to be young, inexperienced. We’re doing different things on defense. It’s not like we’re trying to mold them into our system.”
Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao recently got his academics up, getting through the NCAA clearinghouse, and that prompted Utah, Washington, Arizona State, Arizona, Washington and Washington State all to offer within a week this spring.
“The light came on academically,” Frana said about Pola-Mao. “He’s getting his grades up. They like his measurables.”
Quarterback Jack Smith also has been so impressive with his quick feet and strong accurate arm to get offers from Montana and UNLV this spring, and have ASU asking about him.
Aug. 29 vs. Bakersfield, 5 p.m., Under Armour Brothers In Arms Classic, San Diego
Sept. 11 at Anthem Boulder Creek
Sept. 18 vs. Chandler Basha
Sept. 25 vs. Phoenix Pinnacle
Oct. 2 at Phoenix Desert Vista
Oct. 9 at Mesa Desert Ridge
Oct. 16 vs. Mesa Mountain View
Oct. 23 vs. Gilbert Highland
Oct. 30 at Mesa Red Mountain