Luke Smith sure would’ve looked good in a Winthrop football uniform.
Smith, 18-year-old son of former Winthrop resident Leslie Dowd Smith and former Brookline High athlete Brian Smith, nephew of Jack Dowd of Winthrop, and grandson of Ann Dowd of Winthrop Street, just happens to be one of the best high school football players in the state of Florida.
Smith, a 6-feet, 4-inch, 230- pound graduate of South Fort Myers High School, has committed to play football at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, having received a full scholarship. He selected the Naval Academy over several other colleges that had recruited him.
“I just picked the Naval Academy because of the opportunity and the education that it gives me,” said Smith. “I’m really excited about the future.”
Smith will attend the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island, for one year and then begin his studies at the Naval Academy in 2013.
One of three Division 1 college players on his high school team, Smith enjoyed a superb senior season as a starting tight end and defensive end. A captain, Smith led his team to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the Florida state semifinals. He played in two all-star games, the Lee County game and the all-state game that has featured several participants who have gone on to the National Football League.
South Fort Myers coach Grant Redhead said that Smith has the outstanding leadership skills, superior intelligence and strong character that bode well for his future at the Naval Academy.
“The Academy will definitely be an easy transition for him,” said Redhead. “He’s a very good kid from a great family. He has his head on straight – a yes sir, no sir type kid.”
As for Smith’s football playing ability, Redhead said his resume speaks for itself. “Luke was one of the top players in Florida and that’s pretty darn good in Florida. I’m thrilled about his scholarship to the Naval Academy. He’s going to do good things at Navy. He’s going to be a good player.”
Redhead said he’s looking forward to watching Luke Smith play football for the Navy team. “I can’t wait to go up and see him play. I told him that the first time he’s in uniform for the Army-Navy game, I’ll be there. I told him I’d be there when it’s his time to shine.”
Redhead said Luke’s parents were tremendous supporters of the South Fort Myers program and great role models for their son.
“His father worked the chain gang (first down markers) and his parents never missed a game,” said Redhead. “They were outstanding. I wish all parents were like them.”
Redhead said he also coached Luke’s older brother, Jake, a captain of the Saint Anselm College football team, and Keith, an incoming freshman and the projected quarterback of the South Fort Myers junior varsity team.
Leslie Dowd Smith, a 1978 graduate of Winthrop High where she played field hockey, is proud of Luke’s accomplishments and those of her other sons.
“My husband and I encouraged our children to play sports,” said Dowd Smith. “We both played sports growing up. We’re excited about Luke’s decision to attend the Naval Academy. It’s a phenomenal school.”
“I just want to thank my parents for everything that they’ve done for me growing up and for leading me on the right path,” said Luke. “I love them.”