06/04/13 — Princeton's Dakota Smith signs with Greensboro College

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Princeton's Dakota Smith signs with Greensboro College

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 4, 2013 1:47 PM

Rarely can a college campus nearly three hours away full of strangers and new challenges feel like home.

Dakota Smith found one of the rare exceptions.

A senior linebacker and safety who helped Princeton reach the eastern regional championship of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A state playoffs last season, Smith will continue his career next fall at Division III member Greensboro College.

Greensboro College initially expressed interest in Smith last fall when head coach Bill Young emailed Smith. Smith later visited the campus, attended a football game and was attracted to the tight-knit, family atmosphere he had grown accustomed to at Princeton. Smith also considered North Carolina Wesleyan.

"I went there and watched a game and fell in love, and felt just like I was back at Princeton," Smith said. "I toured the campus and it reminded me of just an overgrown Princeton. I got to sit down and talk with the coaches and they had the same philosophy of win today, and be a leader on and off the field. "

Smith recorded 36 tackles and an interception a year ago. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder was part a Bulldogs' defense that held opponents to 13 points a game during Princeton's three playoff victories.

"I think the difference was we finally started to gel together," Smith said. "All the egos and things started to work and we all just started clicking. We realized after that first-round playoff game at North Duplin that we could make a run for it. We all just started believing."

Princeton went 5-9 during head coach Derrick Minor's first season with the program. A three-year member of the Bulldogs' varsity squad, Smith worked diligently in the weight room to improve his strength and led by example for younger members of the defense.

"Dakota was by far the heart and soul of our defense," Minor said. "He was the vocal leader, but he also led by example on the field. His role coming in, with my first year being here, he was one of the first guys at workouts in the summer and one of the last guys to leave.

"That right there goes into what you want to value as your defensive leader right there."

Greensboro College finished 5-5 last season with a 3-4 mark in USA South Conference play. The Pride opens the 2013 season against Guilford College on Sept. 7.

Smith plans to major in sports medicine or physical therapy.