Tigers land highest-rated prospect since Bowers with Smith announcement
|Thursday, March 26, 2015 6:55 PM- -|
It came as little surprise when
View Full Profile reached below the table and pulled an orange cap out letting the college football world know that he’s officially committed to Clemson University.
The timing of the decision caught many people off guard, but the 5-star Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy linebacker-defensive end had everything planned out – a birthday announcement at home in Baltimore in front of his family and closest friends.
"First of all, I would like to thank God for letting me be in this position," Smith said. "And then I would like to thank my mom. She has definitely helped me out and been there for me. She taught me the right things to do in life. And I would like to thank all of the coaches who have helped me."
After he and his mom pulled out their Clemson hats, Smith detailed the reasons he chose to be a Tiger.
"I knew from day one, my first time down there," Smith said. "It was the place for me. I went down there in the summer and I was just on a trip and Clemson was one of the schools to camp at. I went down there and loved it and fell in love with the facilities and school and the coaches. Got a chance to experience some things.
"After I was done camping in the first session, coach (Brent) Venables told me I was one of the best guys he’s seen in camp. We sat down and talked defense and it was a great fit. Coach (Dabo) Swinney is definitely a great guy and coach (Mike) Reed – they always show me love. From that day, they recruited me the hardest."
Smith – the No. 1 rated outside linebacker in the nation by Rivals and the No. 53 rated prospect in the ESPN 300 – becomes the eighth commitment for the 2016 recruiting cycle and is the second player from IMG – joining 4-star wide receiver
T.J. ChaseT.J. Chase
Plant City, FL
View Full Profile – to commit to the Tigers. Smith is the highest-rated prospect the Tigers have been able to land since Da’Quan Bowers was the nation’s number one prospect in 2008.
When asked who would be on his wish list to join him at Clemson, he said former Baltimore (MD) St. Frances teammate and 3-star defensive back Kareem Felder.
"I played with him last year at St. Frances," he said. "I love playing with him. I feel real comfortable with him behind me. He is the kind of defensive back that will come up and hit you. He has the ball skills, and he is definitely a guy I want."
The 6-2, 226-pound prospect had over 30 offers from around the country and chose Clemson over Alabama, Southern Cal, Ohio St., Oklahoma, South Carolina and Florida State, among others.
Smith visited Clemson for the Syracuse game and also attended the elite junior day at the end of January. The only other visit he’s made this year was to Miami in February.
2014 was Smith’s first year at the linebacker position where he accounted for 111 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions.
Here is Smith's ESPN evaulation.
STRENGTHS: Smith has the size, speed, and strength to play with his hand in the dirt or in a hybrid DE/OLB role. Flashes excellent initial quickness with good wrap up tackling ability. Has the speed to be able to make plays laterally. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Will need to continue to improve size and strength to play on the defensive line. Needs to develop hand usage and watch pad level and work to get off blocks quicker at times against the run. Shows flashes but needs to continue to develop pass rush arsenal. ... BOTTOM LINE: Smith is a quick and athletic defender that could potentially offer some front-seven versatility. Scheme and further physical development will determine how utilized, but we feel best long term fit could be at DE.