By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Former Charter Oak High School linebacker Keith Smith certainly made the most of his freshman season at San Jose State. Smith recently was named to the Football Writers Association’s Freshman All-American team and was named second-team All-Western Athletic Conference after finishing 30th nationally in tackles with 116. Smith led all freshmen nationally in tackles.
“When I first heard, I was really excited and surprised,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to get all those awards, but looking back on the season I did some good things that deserved recognition.
“I’m kind of happy but never satisfied.”
Smith was a standout at Charter Oak, where he led the Chargers to back-to-back CIF-SS Southeast Division championships in 2008 and ’09. He wasn’t expected to have such an early impact at San Jose State, but injuries and solid play forced him into action in the Spartans’ first game of the season at then-defending national champion Alabama.
“It was a blast,” Smith said of playing in games at Alabama and Wisconsin. “It was somewhat unbelievable at first. It isn’t easy when the guys are men instead of the high school kids that I’m used to.
“It was exciting to play against good teams and great players. It helped me throughout the season have the success that I did.”
Smith officially became a starter at linebacker by the fifth game of the season and never looked back. San Jose State named him its Defensive Player of the Year.
“My first goal was just getting there, my second was to start and my third was to make an impact,” Smith said. “I was willing to put in the work that I did and I feel that it paid off.”