Ohio State landed a commitment from one of the top-rated players in the state when Cleveland Heights four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith pledged his services to the Buckeyes during the Under Armour All-America Game earlier this month.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Smith was among the country's most sought-after defenders, as he recorded 70 total tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, 22 quarterback hurries, 11 sacks and six pass break ups to be named the Division I Co-Defensive Player of the Year, the USA Today All-Ohio Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for Ohio's Mr. Football. He held scholarship offers from nearly 40 programs, including Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford, Texas and USC.
After a strong camp circuit last spring, Smith was invited to the Under Armour All-America Game. Once there, he played alongside fellow Buckeyes Teradja Mitchell, Sevyn Banks, Brian Snead and Matthew Jones and helped Team Highlight to a 23-21 win with a game-high five quarterback hurries.
As part of his decision, Smith gave Eleven Warriors an exclusive commitment interview and wrote the following notebook with a behind-the-scenes look at his week in Orlando.
Announcing on television was like a dream come true. Growing up, I used to watch the kids do it and I never thought I'd be in that position.
I was nervous at first going up on stage, but I just thought to myself that I've worked so hard to be in this position. I was ready to tell the world that I was going to be a Buckeye and prove people wrong.
Even though I didn't grow up in Ohio, I think I've spent the crucial years of my life there, and the city I live in shows me love. It's a moment I'll never forget.
My whole family was also out there to support me, and that meants a lot. My brother doesn't get to watch me play a lot because he plays Division 1 basketball, but he was there and proud of me. The whole experience made me realize how thankful and gifted I am as a player and a person. It's truly a blessing.
The experience was great. Meeting new people as far as players, coaches and fans and practicing with the best of the best. I got to get close with some guys there like Alabama defensive end Eyabi Anoma and Michigan State cornerback Kalon Gervin. Even thogh we're not going to be on the same team in college, I'll definitely keep in touch with them.
I met people from all over the country and one out of this country. Being at events like that, it shows you that there are people all over the country that are fast, strong, etc., so I take this as a learning experience. It shows me that I have to keep working, too.
I also got to hang out with with Ohio State commits Teradja and Sevyn. I also met guys I'll be playing against for the next three-to-four years. I definitely gained relationships on the trip.