Enoch Smith Jr. has never been shy, especially when introducing himself to opposing ball carriers as a defensive tackle for Mount Carmel..
Smith always knew what he wanted, went after it and achieved it.
When he was a kid, he played for Michigan State on video games. On Wednesday, Smith signed to play for Michigan State. He was in Arlington, Texas, where as a member of Team USA, he will play Team Canada on Friday.
Teammates Matt Domer, The Times Offensive Player of the Year (Illinois), Steve Dumezich (Illinois), Steve Richardson (Minnesota), Sam Connolly (Miami, Ohio), Deonate Brown (Western Michigan) and Christian Searles (Dayton) also signed to play at the Division I level.
Thornton's Jauan Wesley (Iowa State), Tifonte Hunt (Northern Illinois) and JoWahn Brown (Eastern Illinois) will also play at the Division I level. Bloom Township's James Coleman committed on Monday to Austin Peay State in Tennessee.
Smith was not shy when talking about playing on Sundays in four years.
"I will be the No. 1 draft pick," Smith said. "I have always set my goals high and gone after it. That is one of my goals."
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Smith had 48 tackles, including 14 tackles-for-loss in helping lead the Caravan to their second-straight state title. He was part of a defense that shut down opponents all year and shut out Lake Zurich in the Class 7A championship.
For Smith, education is more than the classroom. His brother Tre'Von is autistic and after every game, Enoch gave his younger brother a hug.
"Tre'Von shows the true meaning of love," Smith said. "I talk to him after every game and tell him I love him. I am going to make sure he and my family are taken care of."
His parents, Enoch Sr. and Talisha are in the process of adopting their nephew, Jeremiah.
"He is my cousin, but now he is my baby brother," Smith said.
He also had a brother Raynoch, who was stillborn and an older sister, Simone.
"My whole family is coming down for this (signing)," he said. "I told my mom and dad, and they sacrificed to pay the tuition at Mount Carmel. I told my mom and dad that I would make sure they wouldn't have to pay for my college education and that dream also came true."
Richardson never dreamed of playing college football.
"I quit when I was 6," Richardson said. "I liked baseball better. I started playing football when I came to Mount Carmel and I really have to credit Coach Frank and the staff for making me into the player I am."
He said he looks forward to playing for Jerry Kill and the Golden Gophers.
"Their coaches reminded me of our coaches — they work hard to make you better," Richardson said. "They are turning the program around and I want to be a part of it."
T.F. South's Fred Taylor and Raphael Canty, both Times all-area players, signed with Northwood (Mich.) University.