5-star offensive guard Braden Smith is an elite 2014 recruit, so naturally he's planning on visiting three elite programs.
Brad Bournival of ESPN.com is reporting that Smith will unofficially visit Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame:
The 6'6", 285-pound junior has planned unofficial visits to Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame. The ESPN Watch List junior will visit the Buckeyes on March 18 and then follow up with visits to the Wolverines and Fighting Irish throughout the course of a week.
“Yes, I can confirm that,” Olathe coach Jeff Gourley said. “They’re planning on making a whirlwind tour through the Midwest during our spring break. They’re thinking about adding more schools, but right now those three schools are definitely on the list.”
At 6'6'', 282 pounds Smith has great intangibles as just a junior in high school, and he has superstar potential at the college level. He has so much potential, in fact, that he's ranked as the No. 1 guard recruit and the No. 11 overall recruit in the 2014 class according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
It goes without saying that Smith would represent a marquee recruiting win for all three of the programs that he's planning on visiting, and it could help each of them separate from the pack. Alabama, Nebraska, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M are listed as "warm interests" on his 247Sports interest list, along with the Fighting Irish, Wolverines and Buckeyes.
Smith is the caliber of recruit that can basically pick and choose where he wants to play college football, so which of these three potential options is the best fit for him?
Given his skill level and the fact that he can literally fit into any scheme as a guard, opportunity to play and depth chart could be the huge separating factor between all three programs. If it came down to winning big games or championships, both Notre Dame and Ohio State are on the cusp of doing so, and Brady Hoke has Michigan a year or two away from the same status.
In regards to opportunity and depth,though, the best fit for Smith out of the three programs is Ohio State.
Both Michigan and Notre Dame went out in 2013 and signed very strong offensive line classes. Michigan signed seven offensive lineman overall, including four guard recruits. The Wolverines also featured four offensive lineman in the 2012 class.
Notre Dame brought in five lineman through the class of 2013, including 4-star guard recruit John Montelus.
Which program is the better fit for Smith?
While Ohio State's 2012 class was strong on the offensive line, Meyer only brought in two offensive tackles in 2013.
With right guard Marcus Hall in his fifth year and Andrew Norwell in his last season, Smith would have the opportunity to come in right away and compete with Antonio Underwood for a starting job at one of the guard positions, and he certainly has the talent to do so.
Consider the fact that Smith would be walking into a program that should be competing for a national championship in his first season, and he'd have the opportunity to play on that squad—and it's easy to see that Ohio State is by far the best fit.
Out of the three schools he's planning on visiting, the Buckeyes have the most to offer.