Sports

Alexander: Derron Smith’s productive homecoming

Alexander: Derron Smith’s productive homecoming
California State University Fresno - Celebrity - Charles Washington - Cincinnati Bengals - High School Football - Mike Smith - National Football League - NFL - Quarterback - Riverside California
July 15
23:442017

Derron Smith, former Banning High star now with the Cincinnati Bengals, conducts a free one-day football camp for kids from first through eighth grades, at the school’s football field in Banning on Saturday, July 15, 2017.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)Derron Smith, former Banning High star now with the Cincinnati Bengals, conducts a free one-day football camp for kids from first through eighth grades, at the school’s football field in Banning on Saturday, July 15, 2017.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)Derron Smith, former Banning High star now with the Cincinnati Bengals, conducts a free one-day football camp for kids from first through eighth grades, at the school’s football field in Banning on Saturday, July 15, 2017.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)Derron Smith, former Banning High star now with the Cincinnati Bengals, left, conducts a free one-day football camp for kids from first through eighth grades, at the school’s football field in Banning on Saturday, July 15, 2017.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)Derron Smith, former Banning High star now with the Cincinnati Bengals, center, conducts a free one-day football camp for kids from first through eighth grades, at the school’s football field in Banning on Saturday, July 15, 2017.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)Derron Smith, former Banning High star now with the Cincinnati Bengals, conducts a free one-day football camp for kids from first through eighth grades, at the school’s football field in Banning on Saturday, July 15, 2017.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)Derron Smith, former Banning High star now with the Cincinnati Bengals, conducts a free one-day football camp for kids from first through eighth grades, at the school’s football field in Banning on Saturday, July 15, 2017.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
BANNING — It is a rite of summer, the professional returning home — and bringing along a few of his buddies — to teach the kids how it’s done.
Derron Smith, who went from Banning High to Fresno State to the Cincinnati Bengals, surveyed the scene Saturday morning: His free football camp, at his alma mater, with 250 or so grade schoolers participating in football drills (and also discovering that on a hot morning it’s good to hydrate, but it’s even more fun to squirt water at the other kids).
It was all a reminder to Smith: No matter where you end up, home will always be special.
Even if it does change.
“This is where I grew up,” he said. “This is the high school I went to. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play on this nice field they’ve got now. I played at Nicolet (Middle School) Field.”
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Banning’s spiffy facility opened in the spring of 2011. Smith, a football/basketball standout at Banning, played his last down as a Bronco in 2009 and then left for Fresno State, where he earned three straight first-team All-Mountain West selections in four seasons (plus an injury redshirt year) as a safety.
That led him to Cincinnati, as a sixth-round pick in 2015. And now, just a couple of weeks away from his third NFL training camp, he was paying things forward.


Maybe the return of the hometown hero just means more in a place like Banning, a town of around 30,000 whose families in many cases have lived there for decades and have sent succeeding generations of kids to the only high school in town.
“To be able to give back to a small town like this makes it even better,” Smith said. “A lot of the kids know each other. I know some of the parents, some of their grandparents, things like that. And I’m not even that old.”
The youngsters romping around the artificial turf Saturday weren’t all Banning kids. Some came from neighboring Beaumont, others from various Inland Empire communities. Derron’s father, Mike Smith — himself a graduate of Banning High, back in the day — said that registrations for the camp came from as far away as Bellflower.
The youngsters, who were from first through eighth grades and included a few girls as well as boys, went through agility drills, defensive drills, chasing fumbles, receiver-vs.

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