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Before lacing up shoes, Smith gets Terps' OK
Commonwealth Notebook


Date published: 12/19/2006

By JIM McCONNELL

Torrey Smith made his first real grown-up decision earlier this year when he accepted a football scholarship from the University of Maryland.

No. 2 was more difficult.

Smith, a three-year starter for Stafford High School's basketball team, wanted to suit up for his final year on the hardwood. But he didn't want to do anything that would jeopardize his scholarship, which will be worth approximately $100,000 if he stays at Maryland for four years.

So instead of bearing the burden of such a weighty decision, Smith did the wise thing: He sought advice from the people he respects and trusts.

He talked to his mother and his high school football coach. He called Maryland's recruiting coordinator, then had a chat with the Terps' head coach. Finally, after receiving the necessary assurances from Ralph Friedgen, Smith met with Stafford boys basketball coach Steve Spicer and told him he was ready to reclaim his spot on the Indians' varsity.

First, however, Smith wanted to clear the decision with a few other important people--his teammates.

"They all worked hard last summer when I was getting ready for the football season. I told them if there was a problem, I wouldn't play," Smith said.

The opportunity to add a gifted athlete like Smith was a no-brainer for his teammates, who welcomed him with open arms. Ditto for Spicer, who has become flexible enough over the course of a 38-year coaching career to look past the fact that Smith missed the first three weeks of Stafford's season.

When Smith informed Spicer that both his mom and Maryland's football coaches supported his decision to play basketball, it was a done deal.

"Knowing how hard he's worked for this opportunity, I never would've talked to him," Spicer said. "I would've felt terrible if something had happened to him."

Spicer's concern wasn't unreasonable. Smith suffered a broken right leg during a summer league basketball game before his junior year and missed Stafford's first three football games in 2005.

Smith sustained a sprained right ankle in a football game against Colonial Forge this season, further aggravated the injury seven days later against North Stafford and hadn't done much running before he joined the basketball team last Monday.


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