The crop of quality 2014 prospects available continued to dwindle as 4-star safety Erick Smith committed to play for Ohio State, according to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch.
Erick Smith picks Ohio State as expect. Or, "University of Ohio State."— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) January 4, 2014
Per 247Sports.com, Smith is the No. 146 overall recruit in the nation and the No. 11 safety. The 6'1", 185-pound native of Cleveland, Ohio was a standout at Cleveland Glenville High School, and he will now take his talent to the collegiate ranks.
Smith was heavily recruited by a number of schools throughout the process, including Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Cincinnati and Illinois. He truly seemed to have his pick of the litter, but camaraderie may have ultimately played a role in his decision.
Ari Wasserman of Northeast Ohio Media Group wrote about the recruiting journey of three Glenville players back in September, and that group included Smith.
According to Wasserman, Smith, Marshon Lattimore and Marcelys Jones all planned to potentially attend the same school.
"Just knowing that we have the same schools and that we can continue to play together, that's just an amazing feeling," Smith said. "It is really indescribable just knowing that I can play with them for the next three or four years after this year. It's important, we are always talking about playing together."
Jones committed to Ohio State in December of 2012, but he continued to take visits with both Smith and Lattimore, per Wasserman, so the trio always seemed to be a package deal of sorts.
While some outsiders may find it difficult to view Smith as an individual because of that, there is no question that he has the ability to stand out on his own at a high level of college football.
Smith has made huge strides as a player over the past couple years, and he has garnered national attention. Josh Helmholdt of Rivals.com was particularly impressed when he watched Smith live back in November.
In the 1st quarter of Cleveland Glenville-John Hay. Love the way #Rivals250 DB Erick Smith plays football. All over the field out here— Josh Helmholdt (@JoshHelmholdt) November 1, 2013
Per 247Sports.com's evaluation of the dreadlocked Smith, he is an all-around safety who excels in a number of different areas. He is rated a seven or eight on a 1-10 scale in every aspect, and he is especially adept at making plays on the ball and tackling.
What level will Erick Smith reach as a collegiate player?
It isn't always easy to project how a safety will translate from high school to college football since safeties have so many different responsibilities on the field. Smith looks the part of a leader, though, and that should help him make the jump in a fairly seamless manner.
In fact, Smith could very well be one of the biggest steals to come out of the class of 2014. He was a late bloomer of sorts, which means that many of the big programs were late to the party as well in terms of recruiting him.
He is still viewed as somewhat of an enigma, but such players often blossom into big-time superstars provided their upward trend continues.
All signs seem to suggest that Smith is getting better and better with each passing day, so he is certainly a player who is worth keeping track of the next few seasons.
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