By RICK PETERSON
On Thursday Shawnee Heights senior star Jeremiah Smith picked Nebraska to continue his track career next season ... with a little help from a former T-Bird.
Smith, a three-time state champ and No. 1 on Kansas' all-time list in the 100-meter dash, revealed his college choice in front of friends and family Thursday at Heights, picking the Huskers over Iowa Oklahoma, and then immediately signed his letter of intent to make things official.
Smith follows in the footsteps of former Shawnee Heights state champ and current Nebraka standout Mikey Hoffer, an NCCA qualifier for the Huskers, and said that Hoffer was in his ear during the recruiting proces.
"He definitely was,'' Smith said. "The University of Nebraska definitely used the connection we had to their advantage, had me talking to him all the time and things like that. He was deinitely involved.''
And Smith said it was good to have somebody like Hoffer to lean on.
"It definitely was because I had like an inside view and I could ask him personal questions that I couldn't ask the coach,'' Smith said. "He's been there for four years and he's going to tell me straight. Even though he wants me to go there, he wants what's best for me so he's going to tell me the truth about what I asked.''
Smith said his college decision was a tough one, but he said he would have felt comfortable with picking any of his three finalists -- NU, OU or Iowa.
"It definitely was tough and honestly I kind of decided once I picked my top three that either of those would be fine,'' Smith said. "They're all phenomenal schools, but what made Nebraska different was No. 1, they have amazing facilities, and I believe in coach Brenton Emmanuel (NU assistant). He's a great coach and the guys there took the time to form bonds with me over the course of the months.
"I went there in September and we've been talking every single month, just getting to know each other.''
Smith is eager to get to Lincoln, but before that has his sights set on ending his high school career with a bang.
Smith won Class 5A titles as a sophomore in the 100 and 200-meter dashes and the 110 hurdles, but had his junior season cut short by an injury and also missed the opportunity to compete as a freshman when the entire 2020 season was wiped out by COVID.
Smith has the state's all-time fastest time in the 100 at 10.27 seconds (9.8 hand-timed) and has a best off 21.25 seconds in the 200 and 14.26 in the 110-meter high hurdles.
"I'm really excited,'' said Smith, who will begin preseason practice next Monday. "I have some big goals planned and I'm just ready to fullfill them.''