Conway baseball standout Campbell Smithwick has committed to Ole Miss.
A 14-year-old freshman, Smithwick made a verbal commitment to Coach Mike Bianco’s Rebels this past weekend. He chose Ole Miss over numerous other offers including South Carolina, Clemson, Arkansas and Georgia Tech.
Smithwick, who has made a pair of visits to Oxford, Miss., immediately fell in love with the campus and the baseball coaches.
“That’s a pretty place,” he said. “It’s gorgeous.”
Smithwick is also equally impressed by Bianco and the Ole Miss coaching staff, made up almost exclusively of former catchers.
“I became a catcher when I was very young,” Smithwick said. “It requires the right mindset. You just gotta know you’re the toughest guy on the field and have to do a job no one else wants to do.”
The teen is a son of Conway assistant baseball coach Austin Smithwick, a former player at Western Carolina University. The elder Smithwick was also a catcher.
“It’s in the blood,” the youngster said.
Although he has been a member of the Conway varsity baseball program since eighth grade, Smithwick began to realize playing college baseball was a real possibility when college recruiters began contacting him this past summer when he was playing traveling ball with the Virginia-based Canes.
One of the Conwayite’s first offers was from University of South Carolina recruiter Skyler Meade.
Although it was difficult to turn down offers from the home state Gamecocks and Tigers, Campbell is positive he made the best decision.
“I did a lot of research and found Ole Miss to be the best place for me,” he said. “Once I visited everywhere and saw what I wanted to see, Ole Miss came out on top.”
Smithwick grew up playing soccer and baseball and was a member of a state championship soccer team sponsored by the Conway Parks and Recreation Department several years ago.
Conway baseball coach Anthony Carroll is excited for Smithwick, but delighted he will have the teen for three more years.
“Campbell has worked so hard for this opportunity and it is just awesome to see his dream come true,” Carroll said. “He is a great kid that is team oriented. Ole Miss is getting a great player and an outstanding young man.
In my 25 years of coaching baseball, he is one of the hardest working kids I have ever coached. He’s always staying after practice to work on his game. I have had a lot of kids stay after practice to get extra swings, but last year I turned around after a game to find Campbell out working on blocking pitches. That’s just not something you see all the time and it just shows you how special this kid can be. I can’t wait to watch him continue to grow over the next three years.”
Although Smithwick is a member of the Class of 2023 and his commitment is not binding, the teen said there is little chance he will change his mind.
“I still have a few years of high school left, but recruiting has gotten earlier over the years,” he said.
The Major League Baseball Draft, however, might have a say in whether Smithwick plays college ball or not. Playing professional baseball is Smithwick’s dream and his favorite MLB player is Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies, who like Smithwick bats with his left hand and throws with his right.
“Bryce Harper has always been my guy,” he said. “I’ve liked him ever since he became Rookie of the Year.
The teen is undecided about a college major.
“I just want to study baseball,” he said.
Despite being the youngest player on the team at CHS for two years, Smithwick has earned the respect of his older teammates, most of whom refer to him as “Soup.”
One of the most memorable games of the teen’s varsity career came during a Mingo Bay Tournament game in 2019 when the Tigers easily dispatched a Greenbrier, Va., team that was led by the head coach of the Canes’ team that Smithwick plays on.
Missing most of the 2020 campaign because of the coronavirus was tough.
“It was pretty frustrating when the news came out,” he said. “It’s bigger than baseball. We have to move on and get our nation healthy again.”
Smithwick attends The Rock Church and his faith is very important to him.
“It comes before baseball,” he said. “It comes before everything. It’s not always easy being a young Christian, but I try my best to be a good example for others. I get to share my fellowship with Jesus with other young people.”
Smithwick also describes himself as a laidback kind of person who tries to help his friends.
Other members of Smithwick’s family are his mother, Jessica, and brother Tucker, who is 16 and a CHS swimmer.