July 8, 2014

R250 Smith commits to Vandy

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Over the past few months, Rivals250 and Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Oakland linebacker Josh Smith has been a pretty hot commodity on the recruiting market, with teams from all across the country making a push to land the 6-foot-3, 219-pound prospect.

But in the end, no coaching staff could overcome the recruiting pitch being made inside the Smith household. On Tuesday, Smith announced his commitment to Vanderbilt, where he will join his older brother and 2014 signee Emmanuel Smith.

"It was a big factor having my brother on board and having him recruit me," Smith said. "I'm pleased to play with him again for another four years. I can't ask for anything better. I'm playing for the school I want, I get to play with him and I get to get the degree I want."

As the nation's No. 190 overall player, Smith becomes the highest ranked commitment in Vanderbilt's seven-member class. He is the second four-star prospect to join the class, along with fellow in-state commitment Donovan Sheffield.

The younger Smith had long seemed destined to be a Commodore, but when James Franklin and his staff left in January, things became a little murkier. That is until the new staff made Smith a priority as well.

"I'm a big relationship guy, so establishing a bond with the new coaches before I made a decision was important," Smith said. "I had a chance to sit down with Coach (Derek) Mason and he was very up front and honest with me. He told me about what he liked and what I need to improve and how he can help me get better. I liked his approach and that's big, because that's the guy I'm going to be playing for every day."

By taking visits with his brother and living in the Nashville area, the Commodores were a natural fit from a familiarity standpoint. But Smith said ultimately that he wouldn't have made the commitment if he didn't feel comfortable from a football standpoint as well.

"They see me as a hybrid-type guy, someone who can play inside and out," Smith said. "They want me to do it all, get after the passer, stop the run, everything. I love the versatile role they see for me. It's one of my goals to make it to the next level and you have to be able to play multiple roles and they can prepare me for that."

Smith, who takes his studies in the classroom just as serious as he does his exploits on the football field, said the academic aspect of Vanderbilt also helped seal the deal.

"I went on a visit that was just academic-related," he said. "I got the full academic tour. I met with the dean of the Biomechanical Engineering department and got to meet some professors and tour the labs and everything. It was more than I expected and that's not something you get to see at every school. That helped a lot."

Smith added that he's shutting things down in terms of visits and will instead shift his focus to helping the Commodores' staff build the 2015 class.

"I'm ready to start helping as soon as I can," Smith said. "They have certain guys they want and I'm ready to help get those guys on board. I'm going to start this week with Josh McMillon. We already know each other and I think he likes Vandy so I'll see what I can do."

Woody Wommack is a Southeast Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.




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