By David Bashore
Herald sports editor
Hermiston Bulldog senior football player Levi Smith cemented his verbal commitment to Western Oregon University by signing a national letter of intent.
Smith, an All-Intermountain Conference selection as an offensive lineman, will play defensive end for the Wolves, a Division II outfit in the NCAA who signed a school-record 42 recruits to play in Monmouth next fall.
For Smith, there were a number of schools interested, but the comfort factor with the school and some nearby family helped make the decision easy.
"I really liked the school," Smith, who plans to study pre-dentistry, said at small signing ceremony held at Hermiston High School on Tuesday. "I'm not going there just to play football. And it helped that my brother (Hermiston alum Taylor Smith) lives right there."
Smith said he was surprised by the rapid nature of the recruitment, which went from sending tape to receiving calls to a commitment to WOU within the space of a week.
"I sent the tape in on a Friday, and I had a call by the following Monday at noon," Smith said.
The whirlwind recruiting process completed a rise to prominence through football that neither Smith nor his parents imagined would come.
"When we moved from Minnesota, he decided he didn't want to play football for some reason, he only wanted to play basketball," Dorothy Smith, Levi's mother, said. "We used him playing football as an incentive to play basketball."
What started off as a means of instilling discipline and character culminated in a leading role on the offensive and defensive lines for the Bulldogs this season, and improved play on the basketball court as well.
Smith and Western Oregon both expect that his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame will fill out by 20 to 30 pounds, enabling him to retain his speed and agility and become a highly-productive player at the Division II level.
Smith has stated that his basketball career will end at the conclusion of his senior season here at Hermiston, as he does not intend to play basketball at Western Oregon.
David Bashore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.