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Bimini ‘sports’ tradition continues through Smith

Sports Scope
FRED STURRUP
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: Jan 12, 2012

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In Bimini, his relatives refer to him as “Lil Geno” and they are thrilled that he is continuing the stellar sports tradition of the island.

The reference is to Eugene Cyril Smith III, the star junior quarterback for West Virginia University who recently made an assault on the fabled Orange Bowl records at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, like no other before him.

Smith set a slew of records on the way to being named the Discover Orange Bowl MVP as his Mountaineers crushed the Clemson University Tigers, 70-33, this past Wednesday, January 4.

He is a talented one and a small wonder, his sports genes run deep.

On the paternal side, Geno’s grand uncle was world class hurdler Danny Smith (whose older brother Larry, is the grandfather). Yama Bahama was a great grand uncle. Gomeo Brennan is a cousin. His mom, Tracey Sellers’s family includes former collegiate star running back Melvin Bratton and Lonnie Hepburn. Both played in the National Football League (NFL).

Now, for the real surprise, let’s go further down memory lane. Young Geno’s great grandfather is none other than Cyril Smith of bodybuilding and boxing fame. It’s a fantastic sports tree and the 21-year-old (6’3”, 214 pounds) Geno has the potential to add to the family sports legacy for years to come.

His grand aunts Renee (Robins) and Carol (Gomez) and the rest of the family are happy for the lad.

He is a good one and the junior at West Virginia cemented his credentials against Clemson. If there were any doubts about his ability to play in the NFL, his superb game washed most of them away. He had the kind of game on a ‘bowl’ stage that normally leads to the NFL, barring a bad injury.

Against Clemson, Smith threw six touchdowns and ran for one. He connected on 31 of 42 passes for 401 yards. He added 26 years on the ground inclusive of seven for the running touchdown, giving him a total of 427 yards. His phenomenal game drew comparison to a couple of rather noted NFL quarterbacks.

His six passing touchdowns broke the Orange Bowl record set by current Houston Texans’ quarterback Matt Leinart who had his signature college game for the University of Southern California (USC) back in 2005. The 401 passing yardage topped the mark set by a certain Tom Brady who amassed 369 yards through the air for Alabama in the Orange Bowl during a 2000 contest. (Brady, with the New England Patriots, is compiling legendary numbers as one of the best quarterbacks ever).

Of course, the 427 total yards amounted to another record, the most ever for West Virginia in a bowl game. He had seven games of 300 passing yards or more, this season, tying a Big East Conference record. He passed for 4,379 yards, another Big East mark, while leading West Virginia to a 10-3 record.

So, the youngster is set. With one more season left, he should be a prime item for the 2013 NFL Draft. In the past, players with similar credentials have opted to go into the draft early. If Smith goes in the 2012 draft he would likely be selected somewhere around the sixth round, but if he stays and puts another season under his belt, particularly one similar to 2011, he could very well go in the first round in 2013.

Best wishes to you “Lil Geno”! Already, you are an excellent ingredient in the Bahamian sports-flavored mixture.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at fredericksturrup@gmail.com)

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