Just days before high school football national signing day, a video of Olathe South senior offensive lineman Braden Smith bench pressing 515 pounds started swirling on the Internet, adding to the anticipation for his nationally televised decision.
He chose Auburn University.
ESPN had given Smith four out of five stars and ranked him as the top prospect in Kansas, ninth at his position nationally and the 20th overall recruit in the region. The network also elected to include him as one of 13 players to announce their college choices on its signing day special.
After sifting through more than two dozen offers from Football Bowl Subdivision I schools, Smith chose Auburn over Texas A&M and Texas Christian.
Smith, listed at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, cited the football atmosphere, similarities between offenses of Olathe South and Auburn, and Auburn starting left tackle Greg Robinson’s decision to declare for the NFL Draft as factors that helped him reach his decision.
After his senior season, Smith was named to the Kansas Football Coaches Association Top 11. He also played in the Under Armour All-American Game.
Smith briefly returned from training camp at Auburn in late May to defend his Kansas Class 6A track and field state titles in the discus and shot put.