Likening Ohio State football to “home,” Wayne High School receiver L’Christian “Blue” Smith verbally committed to play football at OSU on Sunday.
The senior announced his decision to join the Buckeyes’ recruiting Class of 2018 prior to Sunday’s nationally televised Week 1 game against Pine-Richland in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. Wayne lost 41-0 in the ESPN nationally televised contest.
“I just felt like it was home,” Smith said to Bucknuts. “When I was at the camp (in June) it was the place to be. I felt comfortable in my decision and the opportunity they give players outside of football after they leave college.”
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Smith was heavily recruited and received his first offer from Kentucky as a freshman. He chose OSU over UK and Cincinnati, who he listed as his top three teams. Wayne senior teammate Alex Reigelsperger, a defensive end, earlier this year verbally committed to Kentucky.
A large target at 6-feet-5 and 215 pounds, Smith also was sought after as a prized basketball recruit. He also has an offer to play basketball at OSU and might try to double in that sport with the Buckeyes. He led Wayne by averaging 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds as a junior and was a key sub as a freshman on the Warriors’ D-I state title team.
Smith broke into Wayne’s football lineup late as a freshman and has been a sensation since. He entered his senior season with 109 career catches for 2,323 yards (21.3 per catch average) and 29 touchdowns. Wayne is 38-4-1 in that three-year span, losing consecutive Division I state championship games in 2014-15 and going 11-1-1 last season.
Quarterback Phil Jurkovec accounted for all six touchdowns in leading Pine-Richland to the season-opening rout of Wayne.
The decisive setback snapped a 20-game regular-season unbeaten streak for Wayne, which last lost 19-14 at Centerville in Week 10 of the 2014 season. Wayne entered the contest having mounted a 37-2-1 regular-season record over the last four seasons.
A prized Notre Dame recruit, Jurkovec was everything as advertised, running for three scores and passing for three more. Wayne had no answer for the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder and couldn’t get anything going offensively, either. Pennsylvania high school football utilizes a running clock with a 35-point differential.
Jurkovec fired scoring strikes that covered 29, 28 and 24 yards. He also ran for scores of 64, 23 and 3 yards in a masterful dual-threat display that the Warriors couldn’t stop. His day was done early in the third quarter.
By then Jurkovec had 14 completions in 20 attempts for 238 yards passing. He also had seven rushes for 106 yards, accounting for 344 total yards of offense. He committed to the Irish last year.
Wayne’s best chance to score was early in the second quarter when junior QB Rashad McKee connected with freshman receiver Austin Mullins on a short pass near the goal line. Mullins broke free from a defender, but fumbled before reaching the end zone and Pine-Richland recovered.
McKee was knocked out of the game late in the first half replaced by freshman Cam Fancher. McKee started the second half for the Warriors, but was intercepted by Jordan Campbell, who also caught Jurkovec’s final TD pass on the resulting Rams’ possession.
Wayne lost four fumbles to go with that INT.
It was the season opener for both public-school teams. Wayne was the Division I state runner-up in 2014-15 and is coming off an 11-1-1 season last year. Pine-Richland was the Pennsylvania state runner-up in the 2013-14 seasons.
WAYNE GRADS AT OSU
Robert Landers, DL, Class of 2015
Braxton Miller, QB/WR, 2011
Donnie Evege, DB, 2007
Marcus Freeman, LB, 2004
Will Allen, DB, 2000
John Hollins, WR, 2000
Arnie Jones, DT, 1971
AREA PLAYERS CURRENTLY AT OSU
Cin’Quan Haney, sr., CB, Chaminade Julienne
Robert Landers, so., DL, Wayne
Josh Myers, fr., OL, Miamisburg
AREA CLASS OF 2018 FOOTBALL COMMITS
Tyler Bentley, DL, Lakota West / Kentucky
Isaiah Bowser, RB, Sidney / Northwestern
John Dirksen, OL, Marion Local / Notre Dame
Ra’veion “Shocka” Hargrove, RB, Trotwood-Madison / Bowling Green
Jevon Henderson, DL, Centerville / Bowling Green
Cameron Hoelscher, LB, Springfield / Army
Jack McCrory, RB, Spg. Shawnee / Ohio
Alex Reigelsperger, DE, Wayne / Kentucky
Devan Rogers, DT, Sidney / Toledo
Jadon Rucker-Furlow, DB, Belmont / Miami
L’Christian “Blue” Smith, WR, Wayne / OSU
Tavion Thomas, RB, Dunbar / Oklahoma
Malik Vann, DL, Fairfield / Cincinnati
OSU CLASS OF 2018 FOOTBALL RECRUITS
Sevyn Banks, CB, Jones (Fla.)
Brenton Cox, DE, Stockbridge, Ga.
Marcus Hooker, CB, New Castle (Pa.)
Dallas Gant, LB, Toledo St. John’s
Jaelen Gill, APB, Westerville South
Emory Jones, Dual, Heard County (Franklin, Ga.)
Matthew Jones, OL, Erasmus Hall (N.Y.)
Teradja Mitchell, LB, Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Va.)
K’Vaughan Pope, LB, Dinwiddie County (Va.)
Josh Proctor, S, Osasso (Okla.)
Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Lindenhurst, N.Y.
L’Christian “Blue” Smith, WR, Wayne
Brian Snead, RB, Armwood (Fla.)
Master Teague, RB, Blackman (Tenn.)
Taron Vincent, DT, IMG Academy (Fla.)
Jaiden Woodbey, S, St. John Bosco (Calif.)
Max Wray, OL, Franklin (Tenn.)