Hometown Report

With Cameron Smith back at USC, why the area could have 3 NFL first-rounders in 2019

Cameron Smith was expected to be a first-round pick in April's NFL draft, but the linebacker out of Granite Bay High returned to USC for his senior season.
Cameron Smith was expected to be a first-round pick in April's NFL draft, but the linebacker out of Granite Bay High returned to USC for his senior season. The Associated Press

Cameron Smith surely would have been a draw at the NFL scouting combine with biceps, forearms and pectorals built for the bench press, and deceptive lateral quickness and 40-yard-dash speed.

But the Granite Bay High School product delighted his USC coaches with his announcement in January that he would return for his senior season, though he was projected as a first-round selection in April.

Smith enjoys the college life, being a team captain and making tackles. He led USC with 112 tackles as a junior and fancies the idea of being a four-year starter. Smith was deemed the 16th best player in the land by Athlon Sports in a recent post.

The NFL isn't going anywhere. Good for Smith for sticking with USC.

NFL hopefuls – This NFL draft could include UCLA tackle Kolton Miller of Roseville in the first round after he wowed the field at the combine, including a 10 foot, 1 inch broad jump, a record for offensive linemen at this annual "Underwear Olympics" showcase.

And the 2019 draft? Could be three locals going in the first round: Smith, left tackle Jonah Williams of Alabama (by way of Folsom) and quarterback Jake Browning of Washington (Folsom).

Williams, the most dominant high school athlete I've seen in my 29 years at the Bee, could end up as the region's highest drafted player (Reggie Rogers went seventh overall to the Lions in 1987).

Williams missed the second half of Alabama's 26-23 national championship victory over Georgia on Jan. 8 with an ankle injury, but is "good, good," Tide coach Nick Saban said during Senior Bowl practices.

The 2015 draft included first-rounders Arik Armstead of Pleasant Grove and Oregon to the 49ers and Shaq Thompson of Grant and Washington to the Panthers.

Angus lands – As the longest tenured Pac-12 coach, Angus McClure was hoping to extend his stay at UCLA as an assistant to new coach Chip Kelly.

The one time Sacramento State "Hammerhead" has instead landed at Nevada as offensive line coach and assistant head coach. His quarterback son, Hamish, recently signed a letter of intent with Sac State.

Young down – Iowa State's defensive-minded forward Solomon Young, The Bee's Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2016 from Sacramento High, has been sidelined for the season with a knee injury. He vows a full recovery, and he hopes for the same for his mother, Tina, in Sacramento.

She is battling breast cancer while urging her son to remain in the Midwest to heal and to study.

UCD hoops honors – In the "no surprise" department, Jim Les of UC Davis was named Big West Men's Basketball Coach of the Year. This might have been his best season. The Aggies lost four starters off last season's NCAA-qualifying team and still won the Big West championship.

TJ Shorts of the Aggies was named Big West Player of the Year, having produced nine 20-plus scoring games and two dramatic game-winning shots.

UCD women's coach Jennifer Gross repeated as Big West Coach of the Year after leading the Aggies to a league-best 24-5 record and a repeat conference regular-season crown.

Pineiro time – Isaiah Pineiro has bounced around during his basketball journey and has found a home at the University of San Diego, where the 6-foot-7 junior forward landed on the All-West Coast Conference First Team.

Pineiro was a two-sport star at Placer High, then sat out a year before averaging 15.4 points at Sierra College in 2014-15. He started 19 games and averaged 12 points at Portland State in 2015-16, then sat out another season after transferring to USD. He leads the Toreros in scoring (15.4) and rebounding (6.1).

Coach Sam Scholl told the school website, “The first thing (you notice about Pineiro) is an unbelievable example of what hard work is. There is nobody in our program who works harder.”

He also cares about those close to him. Hurricane Maria in September ravaged Puerto Rico. He has relatives who live there, and he honors them with "Pray 4 PR" inked on medical tape on his wrists.

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