The 20th and 21st installments of the Better Know a Buckeye series will profile two Tarblooders who selected themselves into Ohio State's recruiting class in usual Glenville fashion. Since he committed to Ohio State before his teammate, Erick Smith's feature comes first.
The recruitment of Smith, a safety prospect, mirrors the recruitment of Marshon Lattimore to be profiled next week. It also conforms well with Marcelys Jones, the first recruitment of the class. The only differences were Jones' early commitment and Jones' additional interest in Kentucky. All three took almost the same visits and considered the same programs. Minus some huff and puff about the Kentucky Wildcats, fanned largely by Kentucky fans who had next to zero clue on how Glenville recruitments typically unfold, Alabama was the major competition for Ohio State in the recruitment of both Lattimore and Smith.
I discuss Smith's recruitment in general terms before discussing his commitment to Ohio State during the U.S. Army All-American Game. Next, I provide strengths and areas for improvement for Smith as he projects to a safety at the next level. I offer film and conjecture about a possible redshirt in 2014, later concluding with miscellaneous things about Erick Smith you may find interesting.
High School: Glenville High School; Cleveland
Smith had already visited Ohio State for its 2012 game against Nebraska when he visited again in the middle of January 2013. This one resulted in a scholarship offer shortly thereafter. Smith later assembled a respectable slate of offers, including Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State, among many others.
Smith was part of a southern push by the Glenville trio that included Alabama. It was Alabama that was seen as the primary competition for Ohio State, even though Smith had said he would like to attend college at Ohio State. In February, Smith said he would visit Alabama, which latter happened in July 2013. He was given a verbal scholarship offer shortly after saying he would visit in the summer.
Smith, along with teammates Marcelys Jones and Marshon Lattimore, made a trip through the South in July 2013. The visits included Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. Smith had the following to say about Alabama.
"It was great, it was just like how everybody said it would be," said Smith of Alabama. "The campus was nice; the coaching staff was cool and real down to earth. As soon as you get to campus you can tell they have a dominating team because they have some huge dudes."
Smith worked out in front of Alabama head coach Nick Saban and was told that he was a priority recruit for the Crimson Tide.
"He talked to me about playing early if I were to come in," Smith said. "It doesn't matter that I'm from Ohio, they still would love to have me down there and they told me to not be scared about making that trip down South."
Smith was reticent to name leaders during his recruitment, a common tactic for Tarblooders. He did say that Alabama was a sure pick for an official visit in the coming fall. Ohio State would be the other. He did not know if and when to schedule official visits to Kentucky and Tennessee. Official visits to Kentucky and Tennessee never materialized.
The official visit to Alabama came for the game against Tennessee-Chattanooga. The Glenville trio that made the trip said little of the visit. The immediate comments were provided by a Glenville assistant coach. He said that all three liked the visit but the visit itself was little more than making good on a promise from the first trip in July. Smith later said he thought the visit went well but that it was cut short by a flight delay arriving in Alabama.
The next official visit Smith took with his teammates was to Georgia Tech in the middle of the second week of December. To be honest, nothing I could discern was said of the visit and no reason was given for the interest in Georgia Tech. The only comments I gathered talked about visiting downtown Atlanta.
Smith made his official visit to Ohio State a few days later though said nothing of it. He had taken an unofficial visit to Ohio State in September as well and was at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights camp in the summer.
Despite saying he had some hesitation regarding whether he wanted to commit to a college during the U.S. Army All-American Game, he executed his plan on January 4th of this year. An in-home visit from Nick Saban days before Smith's official visit to Ohio State was unlikely to have any effect.
Erick Smith committed to Ohio State in a hat selection ceremony during the second quarter of the U.S. Army All-American Game. When pressed on the spot for why, Smith said he and Marshon Lattimore had discussed playing together at the same school and there would be no better place to do that then close to home in the Buckeye State.
After teasing where Lattimore would commit later in that same exhibition game, Smith expanded on why he chose Ohio State in a feature with Rivals.com.
"Ohio State is like a home away from home," said Smith on his decision. "It's the place that I always wanted to go, I just wanted to experience the full recruiting process. I always had my eyes on Ohio State."
The hats on the table for the commitment ceremony included hats of Alabama, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, and Michigan. Alabama and Georgia Tech were the other official visits. Kentucky may have been smoke and mirrors on Smith's part since Kentucky was a bigger factor in Marcelys Jones' recruitment.
Michigan was host for two unofficial visits in July and September and, along with Michigan State, was cited as a reason he could delay his scheduled announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Game. The primary competition was likely Alabama.
Where He Excels
That Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith wanted to play together at the next level conforms well to how identical they appeared on film for Glenville. Both were play-makers and both played multiple positions for Glenville on both sides of the ball. Smith was mostly a cornerback who projects to safety at Ohio State. Lattimore was mostly a wide receiver who projects, and wishes to play, cornerback at Ohio State.
Smith's size is well-suited for a safety position that would ask him to be a run-stopper. High school prospects vying for major college offers as defensive backs have to be adept at stopping the run. Smith certainly is. He shows a great backpedal and stutter-step, an ability to change course and make a play on the ball when it comes to him. He is a good combination of instinctive and quick to react. A coach would want him at safety for his ability to see the field.
He's also a hitter. These are always welcome at Ohio State.
Must Work On
Smith projects to safety probably because a concern of his frame. It is likely that adding more weight will slow him down a bit, necessitating a move from cornerback to safety. For all Smith has shown on film, "speed" was not something that was apparent to the average viewer.
For what it's worth, I think he's also shown a tendency to take bad angles to the football. The hope is this gets corrected as he matures in the program.
I think Ohio State could afford to redshirt Smith if the coaches wanted. However, graduation at the position and the departure of Jayme Thompson makes it likely Smith sees some kind of playing time in 2014.
- 11W feature from earlier this month.
- Smith had a stellar game (highlight film) against Loveland in the 2013 state championship game. He finished with four receptions for 76 yards and 13 tackles. Loveland won 41-23, though.
- Signing Day video from Cleveland's ABC affiliate.
- Played in the inaugural Ohio-Michigan Border Classic.
- Listed by 247sports as the no. 3 prospect in Ohio and no. 66 prospect nationally.
- Stellar play in the Army All-American Game at cornerback vaulted Smith up 73 spots in Rivals' ranking of the 250 best prospects in the country. Smith was regarded as the best cover guy for the East team in the game and in practice.