Wando WR Smith ignores spotlight, focuses on improving and winning

Wando’s Ortre Smith caught 28 passes for 441 yards and four touchdowns last season as a sophomore. Frankie Mansfield/Moultrie News

Humble. Hard worker. Conscientious.

Those are just a few words Wando football coach Jimmy Noonan uses to describe wide receiver Ortre Smith.

Smith, a 6-4, 205-pound junior, is arguably the state’s top prospect in the class of 2017. Most national recruiting services have Smith listed among the top 10 or 15 receivers in the country. The consensus four-star prospect is rated as the ninth best receiver in America by Rivals. Scout and 247sports rate Smith as the No. 1 prospect in South Carolina. Pretty impressive stuff. Not to Smith.

“I don’t pay much attention to all of that. I’m just trying to learn the game and improve every day,” said Smith, who caught 28 passes for 441 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore. “I’m honored that people feel that way about me, it’s a true blessing from God. But I don’t think at all about it. I have two years of high school ahead of me. I have other things to worry about right now.”

The Lowcountry has produced several NFL receivers in recent years, including A.J. Green of Summerville and Roddy White of James Island. Smith falls right into that category with his athleticism and work ethic.

Noonan says the sky is the limit for Smith.

“He’s a special athlete,” Noonan said. “You’re talking about a kid that as a freshman coming into high school could throw a baseball about 88 miles per hour. He plays basketball. In fact, we really had to kind of talk him into football. He gave up baseball for track in the spring. I think he knows football is the butter on the bread for him.

“The best receiver I ever coached was Michael Boulware at Spring Valley, and he wasn’t even a receiver. He was a linebacker but he had great hands. Ortre reminds me a lot of Boulware.”

Boulware was the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year in 2000, catching 56 passes for 1,028 yards and 11 touchdowns. He later played linebacker at Florida State and played six years in the NFL.

Smith’s athleticism comes naturally. His mother, Tashia Greene, played volleyball at Clemson. Greene pushes her son to excel on and off the field. Smith carries a 3.6 grade point average.

Smith has attended summer camps at Clemson, South Carolina and Florida State. He currently has nine official offers, including South Carolina, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Tennessee. Clemson did not offer over the summer but likely will in the future.

“I don’t worry much about college and all right now,” Smith said. “It’s a long ways off for me. I just listen to everyone and try to learn about each school. I’ll visit some places this season for games and just see what it’s like. But I know I have time to decide. There’s no hurry.”

For now, Smith is trying to stay focused improving his craft and winning games. He realizes he is far from a finished product as a football player.

“I’m always learning more and trying to improve as a receiver,” said Smith, who runs a 4.6 in the 40. “I have to get better in the air, catching the ball at the highest point with my hands. I’m always trying to run routes better. I know if I can improve, I can help my team win games. We want to win as many games as we can.”