AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Austintown Fitch football standout Cam Smith has been starting for the Falcons since his sophomore year, but his focus on academics started well before that.

“I took high school classes in eighth grade. Last year, I was able to finish all the credits I needed, except for English,” Smith said.

As a senior, carrying a 3.85 GPA, Smith is on track to graduate early in a couple of months this December before heading on to the Division I level.

“My family, they’ve always been in the schools, so my grandma, she taught at a school in Youngstown and my mom, she’s superintendent at school now, and my dad, he works at a college. So academics have always come first in our family and that’s what I keep doing,” Smith said. “So I knew it was important from a young age and they kind of helped me out. Now that I got this, I’m blessed with this opportunity to go early in college.”

From a Fitch Falcon to an Iowa State Cyclone, Smith is taking the work ethic created here in the classroom with him.

“School and football, they correlate with each other,” Smith said. “School, it teaches discipline to everybody and all the students turn in and work on time, being in class, on time, and it works the same way with football being practice on time, less on time, and then that all translates on the field.”

“At my position, I’m safety, is kind of like the field general of the defense and I’ve got to know where everybody’s at, what everybody’s doing and school definitely helps me a lot with just knowing the players and their offensive schemes and our defensive schemes,” Smith added.

In part, thanks to a strong foundation built by previous players in the program, like his big brother, Randy Smith.

“They always made sure they took care of the academics first and that’s what really stuck with me, and especially from my older brother who plays at YSU. He taught me that academics is always first and so you can’t play the game of football or any sport, for that matter, without your academics,” Smith said.

“So I’ve always taken that serious and that’s what I try and tell to young kids now here at Fitch, you’ve got to stay on your grade and you’re not going to be allowed to play unless you have those grades. So I think, I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Smith added.