Former West High wide receiver Brandon Smith will make his NFL debut for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday as a cornerback at the age of 26, his former high school coach said.
Smith was a standout football player at West for then-coach Rich Cornford and went to Arizona State to play football. Through multiple injuries and coaching changes, however, Smith played infrequently for the Sun Devils -- he started just three games in his career, catching 10 passes for 196 yards.
Smith went undrafted in 2011 and was cut in training camp as a free agent with both Carolina and Seattle. Smith's mother died last year, Cornford said, and he didn't try out for another NFL team until this year, when Green Bay signed him at a new position.
Smith, who at 6-1, 205 pounds, has terrific speed -- he has been clocked under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash and qualified for the CIF State Track and Field Championships in sprinting events.
At West, Cornford said, Smith was physical enough to play defensive line. In the NFL, he's on the small side for a wide receiver. His size is more conducive to cornerback.
"He's really picked it up, I guess, and he's always had that size and athleticism," said Cornford, now the coach at Frontier. "He made it to the Packers' last cut this summer and then got the axe."
The Bills picked him up for their practice squad, where he has stuck until this week, when they'll use him against Cincinnati on Sunday morning in Buffalo.
"He got his degree from Arizona State and just kept himself in great shape and persevered," Cornford said. "I'm thrilled to death for him."
Smith becomes the third local product on an active NFL roster, and all three are from Cornford's West High teams: Ryan Mathews is a running back for the Chargers and A.J. Jefferson a cornerback for the Vikings.
There's more to that story, said Cornford: Mathews and Smith grew up down the street from each other. "They were good friends growing up," Cornford said. "Pretty good little neighborhood there."
-- ZACH EWING
CSUB volleyball tops Utah Valley
Cal State Bakersfield improved to 10-9 overall (3-3 Western Athletic Conference) with a 25-21, 25-18, 25-17 win over Utah Valley Thursday in the Icardo Center.
Kelsee Sawyer had 11 kills and Shayna Guitare and Debora Araujo added 10 kills each for the Roadrunners.
Setter Fernanda Goncalves had 36 assists and 14 digs and libero Mariah Alvidrez had 18 digs. CSUB had a .311 attack percentage with only 10 hitting errors. Utah Valley fell to 10-10 overall and 4-2 in the WAC.
Condors win preseason opener
SAN FRANCISCO -- Gary Steffes scored with 26.1 seconds remaining to lift the Bakersfield Condors to a 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Bulls in the preseason opener for both teams at the Cow Palace.
Steffes' goal capped a rally in which the Condors erased a 2-0 deficit. He also had an assist. Daniel Sobotka and Blair Macaulay scored second-period goals for the Condors.