Smythe, Battle choose schools
Tuesday, 05 February 2013 by David Tuma
Durham Smythe verbally committed to Notre Dame over the weekend. Smythe was fixture on the Tigers offense for three seasons seeing playing time as a sophomore. His family is from Belton with his father Roy Smythe playing for the Tigers and Baylor's Grant Taft.
His roots run deep in Belton and Durham was a fan favorite of many of the long time Belton residents who still dominated the stands on Friday night. Smythe originally committed to Texas over Stanford but choose the Irish because they were his favorite from the start and he felt it was the best fit for him.
"Notre Dame has been my favorite team for most of my life. I didn't hear back from them at first. Their campus is incredible with the newer buildings fitting in with the older buildings. I liked Coach Kelly and his staff. They are young, excited and football smart," said Smythe.
South Bend, Indiana is in the northwest corner of the state and 30 minutes from Lake Michigan and an hour and half drive from Chicago. Smythe and his father flew into Chicago on the visit. It was the program history and tradition and academics that sold Smythe who simply felt at home.
Durham was part of a major turnaround for the Belton football program. He not only exceeded on the field (541-yards and 6 touchdowns) he and the past several classed of football players changed football in Bell County.
"When I was a freshman I was playing defensive end. They moved me to tightend but I wasn't a big part of the offense at first. They hired a tighend coach before the start of this past season. It takes so much to turn a football program around. It is so much more than just hiring a football coach. When I first started playing kids didn't want to play for Belton. The numbers wanting to play for Belton right now is ridiculous," said Smythe.
Smythe leaves for the school in June but will be back in Texas to play at Cowboy Stadium when Arizona State plays Notre Dame. The Longhorns and Irish have a long history of playing each other in big games and Smythe and the Irish host Texas in 2015.
Smythe because his rare blend of size, height and speed will fit in with Notre Dame's multiple look offenses. His soft hands in catching balls make him a rarely seen player in terms of size, pass catching ability and speed. There will be tailbacks, quarterbacks, linebackers that fans compare against each other over the decades but there might not ever be another Durham at Belton.
Smythe can block, play tightend and he can be moved outside as a receiver. His current weight is 234 but they are looking to get him around the 245 range by the fall. "I will miss my family but this is the right move for me," said Smythe.
Battle commits to Naval Academy
Belton Tigers cornerback Kyle Battle has verbally committed to the Naval Academy. Battle a three year starter for the Tigers on defense was instrumental in turning around Belton's football program. As a cornerback the 6-2, 190 football players was a physical presence the past few season.
In 2012 the Tigers had Battle playing corner on the far side of the field near the opposing teams bench. Teams tend to run sweeps that way because they can get away with more on that side. Battle had 57 tackles and three interceptions last season including one returned for a touchdown.
"He has been one of those kids you wish you had 100 just like him. He led by his work ethic. Not only is Kyle a great athlete but he is a good person. We will miss him. Kyle was that big physical guy at corner on the opposition's side of the field. Don't be surprised seeing him playing the Will linebackers position his senior season," said Tigers head coach Rodney Southern.
"Him and Nate Mitchell were as good as you can get physically at corner at the high school level." Four years ago Southern pointed out Battle, then a freshman, and said that is what a D-1 secondary player looks like as a freshman. His words came true Monday.
"When they first started talking to me I was surprised. We had been talking for a while before they offered and I was ready. They play the best they have in terms of athletes in the secondary. They Navy recruiters were impressed with our facility and the system we have here in Belton. It is like a colleges system in Belton and they were impressed," said Battle.
"My mother is so excited and we used to live in that area. I want to thank my mother and grandparents. Without them I don't know where I would be."