No. 1 ranking hasn't changed St. Thomas' George Smith

Raiders' Smith knows, nurtures the kids in the hall

Fort Lauderdale

Let's take a walk through George Smith's neighborhood. Here's his desk with the nameplate that reads, "They say Lombardi was tough"— though, he says, many of his players don't know who Vince Lombardi is.

Here's a reception area with a window-wall view to the St. Thomas Aquinas High football field. It's part of the year-old athletic center that makes some colleges envious.

Here's the ...

"Hey!" he says to a student, who instantly stops. "What's going on in Spanish class? You need to go to Room 325. You need to get it straightened out right now."

Here's the training room with a hot-or-cold whirlpool that …

"Hey," he says, and another kid stops. "How's math going? You come and see me tomorrow morning after homeroom."

Here's a crowded hallway of …

"You going to class or hanging out by the girls' locker room?" he says to one kid.

… students between classes …

"You've been working hard, I know," he says to a girl.

… that Smith walks through …

"You get your shoes straightened out?" he says to another boy.

… just before this afternoon's practice. It will be one of the final practices before his top-ranked St. Thomas team plays on ESPN Saturday in Ohio against Columbus Upper Arlington.

You can see Smith's handiwork across the country then. Or you can just walk these school halls alongside him in the same manner he's walked them for more than three decades.

Watch the kids he stops. Listen to the way he talks. Then go look, over here, in this corner. This is telling. This is where the St. Thomas athletes are pictured and cataloged behind plexiglass, year by year, so you can flip through them.

Go to a year: 1984. Point to a name: Mike Delvisco.

"He's an engineer," Smith says.

Keith Evans.

"He's an FBI agent."

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