State's Top 10 Prospects: (No. 1) Smith on the fast track

Ooltewah defensive end preps for college at UT camps

Ooltewah High's Jacques Smith.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ooltewah High's Jacques Smith.

It's an odd time to be Jacques Smith.

While most other big-name prospects are weighing their scholarship offers, the News Sentinel's No. 1 prospect in the state is getting to know his college coaches, less than six months from joining them on campus.

While Smith tries to soak in every bit of advice Tennessee's coaches pass along, he knows he has to play a bit different this fall, his final high school season.

"High school ball is totally different from college," the 6-foot-2, 235-pound defensive end from Ooltewah High School said. "High school ball is more coming at you than college, especially the offensive linemen. It's a big difference.

"I'm not going to change the way I play, not yet."

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron teaches Smith and other prospects in UT's camps to rely more on their hands and tries to improve their footwork.

"I really don't like Alabama's campus. I don't like their football team, either."

Jacques Smith of Ooltewah, a UT commitment

Smith, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds and posted a 34-inch vertical in UT's camp, plays high school football like most other ultra-talented prospects. Technique really isn't necessary.

"Go wherever the ball goes and tackle it," Smith said of his high school approach.

Smith, however, is smart enough to know that he can't so easily dominate college competition.

"That would be the complete wrong thing to do (in college) because you'll probably get 'pancaked'," Smith said.

The transition has its challenges.

"It's really confusing at times," Smith said. "You want to use your hands. But you can just run (high school players) over, not waste any time and just tackle the ball."

Smith's commitment to UT went public on Feb. 4, National Signing Day 2009. He was UT's first commitment to the 2010 signing class for new coach Lane Kiffin. Now there are 12.

"My decision just keeps getting better and better every day," Smith said. "You look at our recruiting class we have now. It's becoming everything Coach Kiffin said it would be when he first got there.

"It just feels really good when a coach is keeping his word. It makes you feel so much better as a player when you get closer to your coaches. It just starts all that chemistry and just makes everything super."

Of course, it's still more than five months until Smith officially will join the Vols. That's when he'll enroll at UT in January as a mid-termer.

That means other schools will keep calling. Alabama never stopped.

"They want me to come up for another visit," Smith said. "Coach (Joe) Pendry, the offensive line coach, said I'm the only person in Alabama's whole recruiting history that said they didn't like the campus.

"I really don't like Alabama's campus. I don't like their football team, either."

Smith's thoughts on Alabama are a bit surprising considering he was a fan of the Crimson Tide until he was 12 years old. Then Smith pulled an about-face and started rooting for UT.

Smith said he doesn't plan on visiting Tuscaloosa again. Other trips elsewhere are possible.

"I might take my officials somewhere else but those will just be for fun basically," Smith said.

Any trip will make Tennessee fans a bit anxious. LSU is worth watching, especially with former UT assistant John Chavis in his first year as defensive coordinator.

"I want to go down to Baton Rouge to see LSU, just to see Coach Chavis," Smith said. "I respect Coach Chavis a lot. He's told (head) Coach (Les) Miles about me and he's put me on LSU. I just want to see what their program has to offer.

"LSU, they always have a good defense and it's another top school in the SEC. Why not go check it out, at least once?"

Smith's official visits will be scheduled around his high school football season. Preseason camp begins later this week.

Smith's goals for the 2009 season are to help his team to the state championship game and, offensively, to showcase his athleticism as a tight end. He's intent on changing some perceptions.

"Another (goal) is to get more sacks to show people I'm a good pass rusher because people don't think I'm a good pass rusher for some reason," Smith said. "They think I take plays off. That's what some people say. I just want to show them I'm a real versatile player."

Photo with no caption

Cumberland County coach Russ Partin faced off against Smith twice last season as Farragut High School's offensive line coach. He saw Smith's pass rushing ability first-hand.

"He was very disruptive, like a wrecking ball," Partin said. "Very fast, very physical and athletic."

Smith registered 13 sacks last season. He's hoping for 20 sacks in 2009. As for the tackles for a loss, that will be a greater challenge.

"Last year I got 28 tackles for a loss," Smith said, "that's going to be hard to beat."

Smith's once-in-a-lifetime summer is almost over. It's been a lot of things. But relaxing isn't one of them.

"It hasn't been laid back," Smith said with a chuckle. "I've been working out hard. I've been up to Tennessee like three times to camps to work out with Coach Orgeron.

"It's been going by fast. I just can't wait to get into the season."

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Comments » 41

bluetick writes:

At least we land #1 ! This guy is going to be a great player and recruiter I believe.

smashmouth98 writes:

I love it, we need more kids like Smith. He sounds like a STUD!!!!

golfballs03 writes:

I want a Jacques Smith jersey.

RollTideJoe writes:

Sure is prettier than the conglomerated mess on the hill. And the football team doesn't need you, Sir. They're just fine as they are. See ya in October.

teampenny#658108 writes:

Good player for UT. Go Vols

ArealVolFan writes:

good.

OakyVol09 writes:

I like this kid. He is big and athletic. Plus anyone that hates bama is alright with me!!

cincivol writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

Sure is prettier than the conglomerated mess on the hill. And the football team doesn't need you, Sir. They're just fine as they are. See ya in October.

RollTurd is GAY!!! Prob some geek that never had a girl or anything. Go AWAY please!!!

txvolsfan writes:

Doesn't want to start his career on probation!!!
One sneeze away from the DEATH PENALTY!!!

volzcrushm writes:

BUCK FAMA!!!!! AND, BEAT THE F.A.G.'S (florida, alabama, georgia)

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

the lopers say coach K can't "build a fence around Tenn". I have a feeling the reason you see so many on the Top 25 prospects in Tenn. list above that are undecided is because Kiff hasn't offered them a scholly yet and they are waiting and hoping to get offered!!

Weatherman writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

Sure is prettier than the conglomerated mess on the hill. And the football team doesn't need you, Sir. They're just fine as they are. See ya in October.

Bring it laundry detergent Joe...we'll be waiting.

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to txvolsfan:

Doesn't want to start his career on probation!!!
One sneeze away from the DEATH PENALTY!!!

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I_AmDumbAzz___I_MeanGaytorzz writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You also can't spell "University of Tennessee" without a "U" and a "T". I mean, seriously, how unoriginal can we get here..

rockytopman writes:

Anyone a member of volquest...they're saying we've lost another player to season ending injury...offensive play-maker.

CoverOrange writes:

Top 25 preseason prospects? I count only 17 names listed. Dupree must be summer interning at KNS.

Would it have hurt the reporter to ask any of the following questions?
1. What didn't you like about the campus in Tuscaloosa?
2. What didn't you like about the Bama football team?
3. What happened 5 years ago that made you switch from UA to UT?

Enquiring minds want to know.

rockytopman writes:

It's Austin Rogers, torn ACL according to volnation.

Razzle writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Or Utah. What was that again? 31-17. Do you talk smack on the Utah message board?

CT_VOL writes:

At least we got the BEST prospect!

Frank

utmichael20#546617 writes:

"I really don't like Alabama's campus. I don't like their football team, either."

I LIKE THIS GUY!! Went to Ooltewah too

ETNTigerFan writes:

Didn't like the campus? I'm no Bama fan but that campus is incredible. Next to UGA probably the nicest public school campus in the South. Now the town of Tuscaloosa, ehh. He must be turned off by something else. Either way, if your a TN fan, those are good words to hear.

Phowell23 writes:

"I really don't like Alabama's campus. I don't like their football team, either."

LOL - a true TN prospect, he didn't take the free textbooks that Satan is handing out.

hotrodvol writes:

This guy is going to be a fan favorite for years. He will be the second coming of L. Little. His speed around the end will be a welcomed sight. The defense is going to be special for years to come.

shoalcreekvol writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

Sure is prettier than the conglomerated mess on the hill. And the football team doesn't need you, Sir. They're just fine as they are. See ya in October.

1) When Bammers want to see beautiful country and check out a better lifestyle, they load up the wagon and head to East Tennessee. Every peckerhead I know down here can't wait to get the Smokies. You find anybody that goes to Tuscaloosa for the holidays, and I'll show you someone who's grandma lives there...

2)"Coach (Joe) Pendry...said I'm the only person in Alabama's whole recruiting history that said they didn't like the campus." - Dude's been there two years, and he obviously thinks Satan's tenure there comprises Alabama's WHOLE RECRUITING HISTORY. Either that or he's a liar. What do you interloping peckerheads think about Pendry dissing The Bear like that?

3) "I really don't like Alabama's campus. I don't like their football team, either." - What? He doesn't like a bunch of ugly red-brick buildings scattered out in a field? But that campus's main feature is a sight to behold: A big square patch of grass they call the "Quad" so they can remember how many sides it has. Who doesn't like a big square patch of grass?

TommyJack writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's right, Miz Mull.

Voluvr writes:

"I really don't like Alabama's campus. I don't like their football team, either."

JCforUTVols writes:

What's schools ar J. Stone and Z. Tait leaning towards? I believe we need a strong showing at O-line. That might help securing a Q-back.

FWBVol writes:

The Alabama Crimson Tide put the CRIM in CRIMINAL.

I'll admit I think Alabama has a very pretty campus...somewhat different from UT as Knoxville closed in around the campus and all. I still think we have a very nice campus at UT and I'm proud to be a Tennessee grad.

I just find it a bit of a stretch for a coach that has probably been there for three years to tell Smith he's the first guy that hasn't liked the campus. Maybe Smith is the first guy to see past the Saban facade.

I_AmDumbAzz___I_MeanGaytorzz writes:

in response to TCHDWN10C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have no idea where you're going with this comment.

volboy81 writes:

in response to Voluvr:

"I really don't like Alabama's campus. I don't like their football team, either."

This quote should be added to the Tennessee state seal as part of our motto! :)

ETNTigerFan writes:

in response to smokeydog:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and if he didn't like it then great. He's entitled. I've just never heard anyone say that they didn't like the campus. I've been to about every large, land grant (and many non-land grant), public school campus in the South. Like I said, I'm no bama fan but the campus is REALLY nice. Visiting campuses in other states and seeing their investment in facilities (educational) is enough to make you write your local politician. We (all public universities in TN) are behind.

ETNTigerFan writes:

in response to orangeluvr:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You realize that a university campus stretches WAY beyond football facilities, right?

ETNTigerFan writes:

in response to FARRAGUT0406:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

True. Jefferson was a genius. The Rotunda is a marvel. But I thought that UVA was just "quasi" public. For the most part it serves rich east coast kids unlike most public state schools. Isn't tuition there similar to private schools? Correct me if i'm wrong.

secsecsec writes:

Patrick Smith is an example of why recruiting in-state is SO important. He understand the rivalry with Alabama. He understands the passion. It genuinely sounds as if he hates Alabama. He just plain gets it! A kid from California isn't quite going to understand what suiting up against Alabama on a crisp October day means. It is never just "another" game. We need to recruit in state better. Getting the top player (from this list) is great- but in the future- I hope recruiting in-state is a bigger priority than grabbing talent from the west coast.

givehim6 writes:

Stay orange Mr.Smith! Get some O linemen CLK. GO VOLS!

CoachFulmer writes:

Nothing beats the rolling hills of my native North East Tennessee. As Sam Quinn once remarked, "Its so good to be home."

GO VOLS!

ETNTigerFan writes:

in response to CoachFulmer:

Nothing beats the rolling hills of my native North East Tennessee. As Sam Quinn once remarked, "Its so good to be home."

GO VOLS!

I agree. It's good to call Tennessee home. Esp. when "you car always knows what gear to be in." Fan of TEF too.

Volunatic writes:

I'm pretty sure Jason Respert would advise him not to take a visit to uf when he's committed to UT.

Down_The_Field writes:

"I really don't like Alabama's campus. I don't like their football team, either."

finally, a home grown player that we don't have to teach to hate bama, pee-body and kenlucky.

welcome to knoxville, young man. you'll get along fine with us, cause we hate bama's campus and their football team too. shoot, we even hate bama jelly.

BrewerTL writes:

in response to ETNTigerFan:

Didn't like the campus? I'm no Bama fan but that campus is incredible. Next to UGA probably the nicest public school campus in the South. Now the town of Tuscaloosa, ehh. He must be turned off by something else. Either way, if your a TN fan, those are good words to hear.

I can agree with UGA. Nice campus and Athens is a great town. The Bama campus.....um, can't find any way possible to agree with that. It's pretty boring, as is Auburn and most of rest of the state. Well, almost the whole state. Parts of it (like Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Montgomery) are as ugly as homemade sin!

I will concede the northeast corner of the state is pretty nice.

GhostofRobertNeyland writes:

in response to volboy81:

This quote should be added to the Tennessee state seal as part of our motto! :)

AMEN!!! Everyone call or email your local state officials. GO VOLS!!!

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