Tuesday, July 2, 2013 | 1 p.m.
When the high school football season ended last November, then Shadow Ridge High senior quarterback Bakari Smith continued training.
He purchased a membership to a local gym and would often put himself through grueling two-a-days workouts in preparation for his next football challenge. There was just one problem: he didn’t know when that challenge would come.
Despite being one of the valley’s top offensive players in passing for 1,785 yards and rushing for 1,035 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012, Smith was lighted recruited by colleges. He assumed he would play at a junior college.
Then, the hard work paid off.
During the West Charleston Lions Club 42nd Annual All-Star Football Game in early June, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Smith was one of the top performers — during the game and the week of practices in preparation.
The performances caught the eye of all-star Tony Sanchez, the coach at Bishop Gorman — Gorman has sent more than 30 players to Division I football since Sanchez became coach, and he’s developed the trust of recruiters.
He urged Sacramento State to take a look at Smith. Monday, some three weeks after the all-star game, Sacramento State offered a full scholarship.
Smith, sent to leave in August for the College of Redwoods in Euraka, Calif., suddenly had to make an audible. His football dreams were becoming a reality.
“Thanks to (Sanchez). He did everything as far as hooking it up,” Smith said. “He said he liked what he saw during that week of practice.”
Smith is a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for nearly 10 yards a carries and 13 touchdowns in 10 games for Shadow Ridge. He’s still developing as a passer, completing 119-of-260 passes with 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
He said Sacramento State recruited him as an athlete and will let him initially compete at wide receiver. He’ll could get a chance to run certain sets at quarterback.
Smith transferred to Shadow Ridge from Cheyenne for his final season. Cheyenne mostly runs the ball and Smith passed just a handful of times each game. At Shadow Ridge, he was able to dominant in helping the Mustangs earn a playoff berth one season after not winning a game.
“He came in and really become the leader on offense,” Shadow Ridge coach Frank Tousa said. “We wished we would have him one more year.”
Smith’s dad played running back at Sacramento State, which was a pleasant surprise for their coaching staff when they contacted the family. Smith also had interest from Weber State, New Mexico and Utah State, but nothing materialized until his performance in the Lion’s Club game. In limited action — all players received equal playing time — he rushed for a touchdown and 52 yards on five carries.
“It really feels great to finally be noticed,” Smith said. “The (Sacramento State) coaches said they were excited to have me.”