Former Clayton County football players make all-star game rosters

Before an all-conference career at Lousiville, Hakeem Smith played for Riverdale High. (Special Photo)

Before an all-conference career at Lousiville, Hakeem Smith played for Riverdale High. (Special Photo)


Hakeem Smith


Lavelle Westbrooks

RIVERDALE — A pair of former Riverdale High football standouts were named to postseason all-star game, which should help in their pursuit to play in the NFL.

Hakeem Smith was chosen to play in the 89th East-West Shrine Game while Lavelle Westbrooks has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Both games will be played later this month.

Smith, a top safety prospect for the upcoming NFL draft, will play for the West squad.

The Game will be held January 18, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., kicking off at 4 p.m. and televised live on NFL Network.

Smith joins an elite list of football greats, such as John Elway, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, and 62 NFL Hall of Famers, who have played in the East-West Shrine Game along with 52 players currently on active NFL rosters.

“The East-West Shrine Game has always fielded players among college football’s best,” said East-West Shrine Game Executive Director Harold Richardson in a statement released by the bowl game. “With all 32 NFL teams represented by GMs, coaches and scouts during game week, our players have the terrific opportunity to showcase their talents and get their first glimpse of life in the NFL … ‘Just Like on Sunday.’”

The Senior Bowl will take place on Jan. 25 at Ladd-Peebles Stadim in Mobile, Ala., with a 4 p.m. kickoff. It will be televised by the NFL Network.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Westbrooks played cornerback at Georgia Southern. He was a four-year starter for the Eagles, and finished his career with 20 pass breakups, seven interceptions and 147 total tackles. Westbrooks ended his career helping Georgia Southern upset Florida in Gainesville.

It was the first time that the Football Championship Subdivision program had beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision program in its history.

Smith, a safety, recently helped Louisiville defeat Miami 36-9 in the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. He was named a captain for the game. With the win, Louisville improved to 12-1 overall matching the school record for wins in a season, which was first accomplished in 2006.

The start in the bowl game gave him a school record-setting 51st consecutive start, breaking the previous Louisville record of 50 straight starts by Travis Leffew (2002-05).

During the season, Smith became the first Louisville player since Ronnie Ghent (2000-03) to earn all-conference honors each of their four years. For the season, Smith intercepted three passes - two in conference play - and recorded his lone sack against league-foe Rutgers.

Coming into the season, Smith was a candidate for three postseason individual awards. He made the Watch List for the Jim Thorpe Award, in addition to the Bednarik and Naguski awards that honor the best defensive backs in college football.