Spoto High senior safety/linebacker Donald Smith might have the toughest job on the team this season.
Coach Dale Caparaso has entrusted Smith with calling the defensive plays on the field. It's the first time in his three years as Spoto's coach that Caparaso has done so, and it's quite a task considering Spoto is one of the most defensive-oriented programs in Hillsborough County.
"He understands our defense probably better than any other coach does," Caparaso said. "He breaks down film with me the way a quarterback does with the offensive coordinator.
"To be that guy in our secondary is a pretty tough position."
Smith said he has embraced his leadership role.
"I have to be outspoken on the team," he said, "but in a good way."
Last season, Smith finished with 33 tackles and tied with Nick Addison for most interceptions on the team with four, including two in the season opener against Alonso.
Smith also returned an interception for a touchdown in a 41-13 win over Dixie Hollins.
"He's around the football all the time," Caparaso said. "He plays safety, but because he's up on the ball anyway, I get to have my cake and eat it, too. He's one of our best hitters."
"My speed and man-to-man skills have gotten better," Smith said. "I went to a lot of camps and put in extra work after practice."
Yes, Smith has the talent and ability, but it's his work ethic that sets him apart.
"I hustle on every play and I try to be in on every tackle," Smith said.
"He just wants to win," Caparaso said. "He doesn't care where he plays."
Caparaso said Smith's football IQ makes him a Division I prospect.
"He would be considered a big, physical safety but he's being recruited as a fast linebacker," the coach said. "It's a can't-miss situation with Donald.
"If he doesn't make it at strong safety, you know he can add 20 pounds and be a linebacker."
Smith aspires to reach the National Football League one day. He knows hard work and determination can help him get there.
"(I have to) set a distance between me and those trying to get there," he said.
To Caparaso, he already has.
STADIUM: Spartan Stadium, 8538 Eagle Palm Drive, Riverview
CLASS-DISTRICT: 3A-8 (with Blake, Dixie Hollins, Lakewood, Jefferson, Osceola)
COACH: Dale Caparaso (31-31, seventh season overall; 11-10, third season at Spoto)
LAST SEASON: 7-3
Sept. 3: Wharton
Sept. 10: Alonso
Sept. 16: at East Bay
Sept. 24: Blake
Oct. 1: at Riverview
Oct. 8: at Dixie Hollins
Oct. 15: at Plant
Oct. 22: Jefferson
Oct. 29: Osceola
Nov. 5: at Lakewood
No.NamePos.Ht.Wt.Yr.9Danny TaylorRB-LB6-0191Sr.10Cameron AlexanderQB-LB6-1188Sr.11Donald SmithTE-S6-3212Sr.12Tim AdamsRB-LB5-10191Jr.13Nick AddisonQB-DB6-3187Sr.16Dirk DavisRB-LB5-11171Jr.20Markell JonesRB-LB5-10195Sr.21Marcus WalkerWR-DB6-2176Sr.22Tyron BakerWR-LB6-2186Sr.25Khiry Hernandez WR-DB6-0171Sr.28Geron FurlongueRB-DB5-11191Sr.30Brandon WilliamsRB-DB5-11171Jr.31Rontavious HenryOL-LB5-9181Jr.32Darrin MorrisWR-LB5-9162Jr.35Eric MoateRB-LB5-10175Jr.40Marquise NealWR-DB5-6141So.50Eric JonasOL-DL6-0273Sr.51Zach WillsOL-LB5-11172Jr.52Travatius RileyOL-DE5-11194Jr.53Fredrick LucasOL-DL6-0210Jr.54Fredell MooreOL-DE6-2214Sr.55Jamario BeltonOL-DE6-2255Sr.60Tyler TiptonOL-DL5-10201Sr.62Ben BurkeOL-DL5-11245Sr.68Christopher BeyersOL-DE5-10178Jr.72Alex EdwardsOL-DL6-0242Sr.76Justin EdwardsOL-DL6-2303Fr.78Reggie NelsonOL-DL6-3310Sr.80Andrew PorterTE-DE6-3181Sr.81K.J. GarmonWR-DB5-10164So.88Anfernee MooreWR-DE5-11160So.