One of the nation's top linebacker recruits is officially off the market, as Josh Smith committed to Vanderbilt, according to VandySports.com's Twitter account:
Per 247Sports' composite rankings, Smith is a 4-star prospect and ranks as the No. 9 overall inside linebacker for the class of 2015. The Oakland High School product from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has enjoyed an excellent prep career and will look to carry it over to the collegiate ranks.
Smith garnered interest from top schools across the country, and it is easy to see why. At 6'3.5" and 218 pounds, Smith is easily one of the most athletic linebackers in the entire class. As seen in this Vine featuring Smith running a 40-yard dash, courtesy of Volquest.com's Paul Fortenberry, Smith moves with great speed and fluidity:
With that said, he still has to grow into his frame in order to compete with top college players. Smith has a full year of high school to prepare in that regard, and it is exciting to think about how good he could potentially be if he adds some muscle while maintaining his quickness.
There was a lot of intrigue surrounding Smith's college choice since he had so many options. Vanderbilt emerged as an early favorite since his brother, Emmanuel Smith, will play for the Commodores during the upcoming season.
According to Tom Kreager of The Daily News Journal, the status of Josh's brother had no bearing on his college choice.
"I know my brother is there," Josh said. "He made his decision based on how he liked Vanderbilt. But I'm going to make my own decision. They don't have a leg up because he is there. I'm going to make my own decision based on if it's the right place for me."
Vandy certainly wasn't the only program that came calling, as Smith was a fast-rising prospect in terms of overall recruitment, per Barton Simmons of 247Sports:
Smith is coming off a season in which he racked up 81 tackles, and it is quite apparent that he is improving rapidly. He is oozing with raw talent, and it will be interesting to see if that potential is converted into something more once his college career starts.
Speed kills in major college football and the NFL, for that matter. Smith is a new-age linebacker who is capable of keeping up with and even outrunning many tight ends, running backs and wide receivers. That type of skill set will make him a versatile asset in the coming years.
Smith definitely seems like a bit of a project despite how highly touted he is. He may not receive much playing time as a freshman, but that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. He relies heavily on pure athleticism to make plays in high school, but there is more to the craft than that at the collegiate level.
Between now and his college debut, he will have to get a feel for schemes and techniques while also developing his linebacker instincts. All of that comes with time, which is something that Smith must be afforded plenty of by fans in particular.
There is always pressure for top recruits to come in and dominate right away, but it isn't that easy. Smith should be an excellent player down the line, but patience must be exercised to ensure that he reaches his ceiling.
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