DeSean Smith has put in a lot of work, and he has seen it pay off. He saw it pay off with offers from top college football programs across the region. He saw it pay off when he committed to LSU in July. On Thursday, Smith saw his hard work and determination pay off once again.
Thursday, with the trademarked smile across his face, the 6-4, 222-pound Lake Charles (La.) Barbe tight end was presented as a U.S. Army All-American.
"Playing in the U.S. Army game is like a dream. You grow up watching the games and you want to be there one day," Smith said. "It's just an honor to be able to play in it. It's a tradition and it's more known and I think it's the biggest bowl in America.
"I think I'm blessed be able to have the opportunity to play in this game. Not many kids get this opportunity and I want to take advantage of it and go have fun while I have the chance."
Over the years he has watched the likes of DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin, Andrew Luck, and Michael Floyd. Now he joins them as an Army All-American and he cannot wait to join the other 2013 honorees in San Antonio.
"I'm just happy to be there. I'm so pumped up and ready to be there with those guys," Smith said. "I want to get better and this is going to help me so much when I'm headed into college. High school is high school and you don't play All-Americans and getting an opportunity to go do that I'm going to take advantage of it and learn from those guys. I'm going to make mistakes and they're going to make mistakes but just being able to learn from those guys is going to be a great opportunity."
"It's going to be ridiculous. We have big-time commits to LSU. Just being able to play with the top players in the country is going to be ridiculous," Smith said. "I'm so glad everybody is picking LSU right now. I think we're going to win a national championship with all the guys coming in. I'm very excited for this. … I'm ready to get over there and compete with those guys and do something really big over there."
It is easy to see Smith is excited about heading to Baton Rouge. Recently, the standout tight end saw first-hand just what he loved about the LSU Tigers as an unofficial visitor as LSU hosted Alabama.
"Being in the stadium and the stands, you know how much they support you and the offense and the players," Smith said. "They're always with you. They're like family over there."
Life is good for DeSean Smith. Dreams he never dared to dream are coming true before his very eyes. Smith is quick to credit coaches and those who have encouraged him along the way. However, he makes it clear, there are no shortcuts and there is no secret to how he has reached these new heights.
"I never knew I would have the opportunity to do that," Smith said." I just played and worked my butt off and tried to be successful."