“Fresh”man talent

Bill Bordewick and Bill Bordewick

What do Michael Jordan, Jermaine Dye, LeBron James and Ahmad Smith all have common? They all wear the great number 23.

Smith earned player of the week honors for his performance over the weekend in the Falcon Classic. Smith had the game-winning goal against the Western Illinois Leathernecks on Friday and scored a penalty kick goal against the Eastern Illinois Panthers on Sunday.

“I know a lot of freshmen don’t get to do that, so it’s kind of an honor,” Smith said. “Pretty much I just have to keep up the good work.”

Though just a freshmen, Smith is already being counted on in a team that is looking for young leadership.

“We’re hoping that Ahmad can be one of the leading goal scorers for us and pick up right where Omari Aldridge left off – it puts us in a good position,” said coach Fred Thompson.

Aldridge scored 11 goals for the Falcons last season in the same position that Ahmad is playing now. Ahmad is on pace for roughly 18 goals this season (though after only two games).

Smith has many teammates on the team who is glad to see him on the Falcons and not attending any other university.

“Ahmad’s a great guy,” said fellow freshmen and Mississippian, Jacob Lawrence. “I’ve played with and against him for many years back home in Mississippi. It’s very nice not to have to play against him. I get to call him my teammate now, and I’m very glad to have him on my side, and I’m sure everyone else is too.”

Smith and Lawrence are two freshmen that are part of a massive overhaul of a soccer team that won no games two seasons ago and won only four games last season. This year’s squad features 15 freshmen or redshirt freshmen, and by going 1-1 this weekend, is already 25-percent of the way to matching last season’s win total.

“We are hoping that Ahmad is going to mean a lot,” Thompson said. “I am glad he scored in his first two games. It’s a pretty good record to have, and hopefully he can keep it up.”

Thompson realizes the history that is taking place. We could be witnessing a special thing. This could be like Pele on the New York Cosmos in the 1970’s. Then again, maybe we should just let Ahmad play before comparing him to Jordan and LeBron.