By Derrick Mahone
When Steve Smith first met Henry County coach Mike Rozier, he only had one request for his son's future coach.
Smith asked that Rozier at least let his son, Shaverez Smith, try out for wide receiver. If he couldn't cut it at the position, the elder Smith told Rozier to put him anywhere.
Not only did Smith stick at the wide receiver position, but the senior thrived in the pass-happy Warhawks offense. Nearly everyone took notice of Smith's accomplishments as he garnered all-region honors as well as being named the Southern Crescent Henry County player of the year in addition to being named Associated Press honorable mention all-state.
Today, Smith will suit up for his final high school game when he takes part in the 65th annual Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic Game at Memorial Stadium in Columbus. Kickoff is 2 p.m. He will play for the South squad, which consist of players that play in Regions 1-4.
The South has won the last three contests.
"I'm extremely honored to be in this game," Smith said. "It is a reward for how hard I worked. There is plenty of talent that will be in this game."
Smith, 6-2, 185 pounds, was one of the top receivers in the state. He had 32 receptions for 834 yards and 11 touchdowns. In leading the Warhawks to the first round of the Class AA playoffs, he averaged 26 yards per catch.
Smith will not be the only Warhawk participating in the prestigious game. Rozier will be on the sidelines as the running backs coach for the South squad.
"Shavarez had an unbelievable year for us," said Rozier, who will be coaching in his first all-star game. "He was a natural at the wideout position."
Smith was virtually an unknown commodity last season at Eagle's Landing High. He sustained a broken toe injury that sidelined him for most of his junior season. Through some intense rehab, Smith was able to return in time for baseball season.
"I did every thing I could to get back onto the field this season," Smith said. "I rehabed and drank plenty of milk."
Whatever he did definitely worked.
All-American teammate Markeith Amples and Smith formed a formidable receiver corp for the Warhawks. Most opponents played a deep zone defense in hopes of containing the two. Smith credits quarterback Dylan Shaddix with recognizing defensive coverages and connecting with the open receiver.
"Dylan did a great job this season," Smith said. "He did an excellent job of spreading the ball around."
This will be the third straight season that a Henry County High wide receiver has been chosen for the GACA game. Last year, Jamal Patterson, now a freshman at Stanford, played in the all-star game. In 2007, Chris Jackson, now at Georgia Tech, was chosen for the game.
Smith is hopeful for a good showing in the all-star game to impress more college coaches. Although Div. I Bowl Championship Series coaches are not allowed to attend the game, Rozier said a good showing on film could net him some more offers. Smith has offers from Kent State, Middle Tennessee State, Jacksonville State and North Carolina Central. West Virginia is close to offering, according to Rozier.
"It won't hurt for him to have a good game," he said. "He will be going up against some of the top players in the state. I'm sure a lot of the scouting services will be there."
Said Smith: "I'm going with the mentality that I have to go hard on every play. I'm just going to do the things that got me in the all-star game. I know it will be a lot of competition on the field."