Verlis Smith leads a busy life as a multi-sport athlete, 4.0 student and part-time employee.
The 6-foot-2 195-pound senior will star at wide receiver and cornerback on Ceres High School’s football team for the third year in a row this fall.
Smith earned all-league honors in football, track and field and volleyball as a junior.
“I’m my happiest when I’m playing sports,” said Smith, whose father passed away when he was in junior high. “It’s like an escape from reality.”
“One thing that makes me stand out is I’m a workaholic. I hate when people make me look bad. I may not be the best, but I’m going to outwork everyone around me.”Verlis Smith
“One thing that makes me stand out is I’m a workaholic,” he added. “I hate when people make me look bad. I may not be the best, but I’m going to outwork everyone around me.”
Smith was selected to the Western Athletic Conference South Division First Team last season.
He caught 16 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns.
He ranked first on the team in all three offensive categories.
Smith rushed for 198 yards and two TDs, both team highs, on 20 carries.
He completed 10 of 17 passes for 160 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
He also had nine tackles, one interception, one pass deflection and one forced fumble on defense.
“It’s my last year of high school ball,” Smith said. “I’m motivated. My mindset is to try to get better every game. I’m going to play every game like it’s my last. My strength and speed are the two biggest things that have changed from freshman year until now. For me to be as big as I am and move the way I do, it gives me a huge advantage over corners.”
Smith and junior Landyn Hudson could make up one of the top receiver-quarterback tandems in the Stanislaus District.
Hudson passed for 860 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions in three games at the varsity level last season.
“He’s the guy I want out there,” Smith said. “I really believe and trust in him.”
The 2020 high school football season was moved from the fall to spring because of safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Schedules consisted of just five contests and no playoffs.
Ceres High compiled a non-losing record for the first time in 16 years.
The Bulldogs finished 2-2 overall and in fourth place in the WAC South standings (1-2). Ceres High played just four times as its home game against Pacheco was canceled due to COVID-19 testing issues.
“It’s special being a part of this program,” Smith said. “We took a huge step forward. We can’t go back from this.”
“It would be nice to win and prove everyone wrong,” he added. “We want to change the culture.”
The Bulldogs are scheduled to play 10 games this fall.
Ceres High will compete against West of Tracy, Amador and Central Valley during the preseason.
The Bulldogs have an all-time record of 2-13 versus the crosstown-rival Hawks.
Central Valley has won the last six meetings.
The Hawks prevailed, 36-14, this past season.
The Bulldogs will face Lathrop, Beyer, Johansen, Pacheco, Los Banos, Mountain House and Grace Davis in Western Athletic Conference play.
“I know what we have,” Smith said. “We should be able to compete against every team in this league. It’s going to be a big year for us. We’re going to shock a lot of people.”