Despite a pair of visits to check out two of Tennessee’s fiercest rivals, Jacques Smith said UT’s coaches need not worry about his commitment.
“It doesn’t hurt to see what other campuses are like,” the 6-foot-3, 225-pound defensive end from Ooltewah High School said. “I know what I feel about Tennessee.”
Smith, a strong candidate to be deemed the top prospect in the state, committed to UT last month. He has since visited Alabama and will travel to Georgia on March 21.
Smith was clear; UT coaches don’t have to worry about the Crimson Tide.
“Oh no, not at all,” Smith said when asked if he was interested in Alabama. “That’s probably the last place on earth that I’d go to college.
“Alabama has a very good football program and a very good football coach. They have a good program - one of the nation’s top - but it’s not a place for me. If I went there, my heart wouldn’t be in it.”
Smith has scholarship offers from North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and, most recently, LSU with former UT defensive coordinator John Chavis leading the charge.
Smith appreciates the offers but feels that some schools are just offering him to persuade him to visit their campuses – either for junior days, summer camps or official visits this fall.
“I respect them,” Smith said, “but it’s kind of like a bribe just trying to get me to come here.”
Smith has already started recruiting other prospects to UT, namely offensive lineman James Stone from Maplewood High School. Stone is likely Smith’s top competition to be named the state’s top prospect.
“I try to persuade them over a little bit, just to see the good sides about Tennessee and the negative about the other schools that I’ve seen already,” Smith said. “I let them know in advance without taking the trips.”
Count Smith as one that enjoyed seeing some of UT’s coaches and players jump around shirtless in front of nearly 100 prospects visiting junior day last Saturday.
“It was real exciting to see that,” said Smith, who plans to enroll in January. “They’re really pumped up about the season.
“I am, too.”