Cornerback prospect D.J. Smith has chosen to play college football at South Carolina.
The coveted recruit received interest from a wide range of schools throughout the process before ultimately deciding the Gamecocks were the best fit.
Smith broke the news at a press conference, then on Twitter:
Officially committed to the University of SOUTH CAROLINA!— ¡VeintiUNO! (@DJ_Smith_smith) January 14, 2014
Smith is a 4-star recruit who ranked inside the top 150 nationally, according to 247 Sports' composite rankings. He also rated as one of the top 15 cornerbacks available in the 2014 class and one of the best prospects from the state of Georgia.
The Walton High School product is rated as a defensive back but has also played running back, which helps illustrate his level of athleticism. He's still a pretty raw talent, but the signs of upside are obvious as he prepares to make the jump to the collegiate level.
What makes Smith stand out is his playmaking tendencies and advanced ability in run support.
While his coverage skills are still a work in progress, especially in man-to-man situations, he can make game-changing plays in the secondary. Once he gains more experience and improves in coverage, he has a chance to become the total package.
That's because he's already shown terrific tackling skill when helping stop the run. Often, it's an area where players coming out of high school need a lot of work and coaching, but it's one of Smith's strongest traits and helped him achieve the 4-star rating.
Being such a reliable tackler also gives him some versatility. He could move to safety if the situation warranted and still have the necessary tools for success. And coaching staffs are always looking for players capable of helping in multiple areas.
All told, Smith probably isn't ready to step right into the starting lineup and play every down. He needs some seasoning while playing more of a niche role at the outset, which will help him develop as a true cover corner.
Once he progresses in that respect, he'll be ready to take on a starting role and should develop into a very solid player by the time he's an upperclassman.
Smith is a talented prospect, and the best should certainly be yet to come.