MIAMI — o o o o o
Attention was turned toward Geno Smith, who was ready, willing and eager to play at West Virginia ... whether Boyd had come or not. And it wasn’t exactly like it was a step down for WVU, Smith having been named a Parade All-American at Miramar High in Miami.
“I had no idea of what Tajh’s situation was,” Smith said. “It was a situation where Doc (Holliday) came down and started talking to me right after my Alabama visit. I just felt like West Virginia was the place for me. I had no idea what Tajh did nor was I shying away from any competition with him.”
What is forgotten now is just how star-crossed all of this is. See, Boyd was supposed to come to WVU with his receiver from high school, Logan Heatsie, himself a top 100 prospect.
In the end, that didn’t work out either, for Heatsie redshirted his freshman year, then exited, reportedly for Old Dominion in Virginia, although he hasn’t played there yet.
So the Mountaineers lost a quarterback-receiver combo and replaced them with, well, another quarterback-receiver combo, as Smith’s high school teammate Stedman Bailey followed him to WVU and has emerged as one of the nation’s top receivers.
It was certainly a fair tradeoff, and Smith is eager to get into this Orange Bowl competition, not because of a “me vs. you” kind of thing with Boyd but because that’s what you do when you are a high-profile athlete through high school and college.
“The relationship I built with the stars you see throughout college football is normal. You play against those guys in high school and come to know them. We play the best athletes week in and week out in Florida. It’s how you get good, facing that kind of competition,” Smith explained.
“It is a pipeline. Coming out of high school, Stedman and I were very popular guys down there. We still are. We go home and work out with the kids who are there now. We see those guys. I never try to persuade them to come to West Virginia for my personal benefit. I tell them to do what’s best for them. If they feel West Virginia is the best place, they should be here.”
One thing is certain, Smith knows that when you get a kid out of Florida, he figures to be ready to play.
“The competition down there is different than anywhere in the country, and that’s what makes the pipeline so special,” he said.