Most of the headlines Olathe South’s Braden Smith has generated center on his football prowess, which is considerable to say the least.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Smith is a four-star offensive tackle, ranked fourth at his position and No. 22 overall in the nation by Rivals.com. He has offers from everybody — Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and the list goes on and on.
He’s long been a man among boys, but now Smith, who completed his junior season in May, also stands atop the boys track and field heap as The Star’s All-Metro boys track and field athlete of the year.
Smith won the Kansas Class 6A shot-put state championship by more than 4 feet with the third-best throw among all classes (57 feet, 31/2 inches). His season-best throw was 59-7.
Smith was even better in the discus, posting the top throw at state among all Kansas competitors (188-0) and the 20th-best throw in state history.
“I don’t think there’s a day that goes by for me or the other coaches who work with him on a daily basis that we don’t marvel at Braden,” Falcons coach Tim Quinn said. “He truly is just in another class of high school athlete, whether it’s track or, of course, football.”
Many top football recruits opt to skip the spring semester and enroll in college early, but Smith, who is eager to try to repeat in both events next season, won’t give up his last track and field campaign.
“He’s talked to us and wants to finish high school well,” Quinn said. “That’s just part of his personality. He doesn’t like taking shortcuts. He likes doing things and finishing things the old-fashioned right way. That’s just who Braden is, so that’s pretty neat of him. He’s exactly the face of the athlete you’d want, the poster of what track and field is all about.”
While Smith — a 6-foot-6, 275-pound behemoth — possesses incredible natural gifts, it’s his willingness to put in the time and effort in the weight room that elevates him to one of best athletes in the nation.
“He has a lot of natural ability,” Quinn said. “But he also works terribly hard, and he’s also a student of the throws and works hard on the proper technique.”