Since his sophomore season when he had eight touchdown catches, Smith has been a focal point of LaGrange’s offense, and he has continued to make big plays in this, his final season of high-school football.
In LaGrange’s spread offense, Smith is quarterback Zach Giddens’ number one target, and he has had some amazing performances this season.
There was the nine-catch, 138-yard performance against Thomson, at the time the state’s second-ranked Class AAA team.
He also had nine catches for 126 yards against Newnan, and he scored two touchdowns in that game.
He’s had scoring catches of 55, 50, 47 and 40 yards (twice) this season, and he’s scored eight touchdowns in eight games.
By the time Smith exits the stage at LaGrange High, he will have caught more than 100 passes and scored close to 30 touchdowns.
Smith is also a full-time defensive player this season as a starting linebacker.
“Dee’s our go-to guy. He’s one of the top receivers in the state,” LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said.
Teams have made an effort to slow Smith, but the Grangers have a lot of other offensive weapons, so he has been able to get his hands on a lot of balls this season.
Even when Smith is bracketed by multiple defenders, he’s often still able to come down with the ball.
“If it’s thrown to me, I’ve got to get it,” Smith said at the close of practice on a chilly Monday evening.
At 6-foot-1, Smith doesn’t tower over defenders, but he runs exceptional routes, and most importantly, he usually manages to bring the ball in if it’s anywhere near him.
Smith also has sprinter’s speed, which allows him to pull away from defenders after he makes the catch.
Even with the depth of talent on LaGrange’s offense, Smith still garners a lot of attention, and he said the team adjusts to whatever the defense offers.
“I’ve had to adjust to that a little bit,” Smith said of the increased attention. “But we’ve got other good receivers who can make plays to. Like the other night, Tavone (Rivers) made a good play. Some teams double down on me, and we try to take advantage of it if we can.”
Branch said having other players coming up big in the passing game only makes Smith more effective.
“The thing that was really big for him is, the better Clete (Miller) does, and the better Tavone does, he had a big game the other night, the better (Smith) does,” Branch said. “If people want to try to take Dee away, we’ve got some skill. They’re all good athletes who can make a play. Tavone, Dee Gates, Wynton (Heard), all those guys are fully capable.”
Still, no matter the defense, the ball is going to come Smith’s way plenty during a game.
As Branch said, “we have to find ways to get him the ball,” and the team has been successful doing that.
His best game was against Harris County when he caught seven passes for 186 yards with scoring catches of 50 and 47 yards.
He also had two touchdown catches against Columbus, and he scored twice in the season opener against Newnan.
He had another two-touchdown performance against Fayette County, and he also had what he calls his favorite catch of the season in that game.
“It was a one-handed catch,” Smith says with a grin.
Smith had single touchdowns in games against Thomson and Alexander.
Now, Smith turns his attention to the biggest game of the regular season.
Friday night, LaGrange will put its playoff hopes on the line when it faces Troup in the annual county grudge match.
Smith has been a part of two consecutive losses to Troup, and he’s obviously looking forward to getting a chance to reverse that trend.
“We’re real excited,” he said. “It’s one of those games we’re pushing hard for. It’s a big game for us. We’re just fired up.”
Smith will be one of the busiest men on the field.
He’ll be in there for most of the snaps on offense and defense, and he doesn’t mind that a bit.
“I love both sides of the ball,” he said. “Whatever the team needs me to do, I’ve got to do it.”
Smith knows this will be his final shot at beating Troup, and he doesn’t plan on leaving anything in reserve.
“I’ll put it all out on the field this week,” he said.