Surrounded by his family, Cleveland Heights four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith announced his commitment to Ohio State during Thursday night's nationally televised Under Armour All-America Game.
Proud to be a buckeye!!! pic.twitter.com/EOpaKkfwML— Tyreke Smith (@T_23_baller) January 4, 2018
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Smith is considered the fourth-best weak-side defensive end and No. 60 prospect overall in the Class of 2018. He picked Ohio State over finalists Alabama, Oregon, Penn State and USC.
“Ohio State feels like a family setting,” Smith told Eleven Warriors. “Also, they have my major [business] and good academics. The biggest thing that stuck out and put them ahead is that I feel that coach [Larry] Johnson and the rest of the Ohio State staff can develop me the best out of all the schools.”
The Smith File
- Class: 2018
- Size: 6-foot-3, 260 pounds
- Pos: DE
- School: Cleveland Heights (OH)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: 4 (WDE)
Smith did not play high school football until his junior season, but picked up several offers during the camp circuit the summer prior thanks to the athleticism and conditioning he received while playing basketball. He came onto the Buckeyes' radar during a one-day camp that June, and the two sides started to build a relationship thereafter.
Smith attended a number of games that fall alongside his teammate and eventual wide receiver commit Jaylen Harris, and Ohio State finally offered him a scholarship in January. He returned to campus several times over the spring, and most assumed his pledge was inevitable because of proximity — after all, head coach Urban Meyer doesn't often miss out on in-state prospects he wants.
A pair of trips to Penn State with his family over the summer quickly shifted that narrative, however, as the Smiths grew very fond of head coach James Franklin. From then on, the Nittany Lions were considered the favorite to land his commitment.
Meyer didn't give up, though, and paid a visit to Smith's coaches during the Buckeyes' open week in October to guage their chances. He took his official visit one week later, but it was clear the staff still had a lot of work to do if they wanted to keep him home.
When five-star defensive end Brenton Cox then reopened his recruitment in early December, Ohio State turned up the heat on Smith. The Buckeyes' lack of depth at the position and the chance to play for someone like Johnson tilted things back in their favor.
Smith took an official visit to Penn State in early December, and it did not go as the Nittany Lions had hoped. Feeling him slip away, Franklin and defensive line coach Sean Spencer attempted to conduct an in-home visit twice in the week thereafter, but were turned away both times.
Meyer, Johnson, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and running backs coach Tony Alford made the trip to Cleveland Heights just a few days later to watch Smith play basketball, and it was during the in-home visit afterward that he made them aware of his intentions.
“Coach Johnson is a great mentor and person to be around,” Smith said. “He pushes you and coaches you to be the best and that's what I need. Our relationship has grown over time, and I have the utmost respect for him and he gives me respect, as well.”
Smith — who actually signed his national letter of intent last month, but asked the program to keep his decision a secret until this evening — becomes the 22nd member of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class. He joins Pickerington North three-star signee Alex Williams at the defensive end position.