Top Texas LB Looking at Linebacker U

The University of Alabama has firmly established itself as "Linebacker U" with a total of 26 current or former linebackers in the National Football League. NFL greats such as Cornelius Bennett, Lee Roy Jordan, and Derrick Thomas are among the names on the list. Other notable NFL names such as E. J. Junior, Barry Krauss, Woodrow Lowe, and Dwayne Rudd are also on the list. Additionally, current linebacker Saleem Rasheed is poised to add his name to an NFL roster after his college career is over

In all, Alabama has produced six 1st round picks by the NFL at the linebacker position. Since 1976, 23 Alabama linebackers have gone on to NFL careers, which is an average of nearly one per year. Crimson Tide linebackers aren't just making it to the highest level of football, either. Five former Alabama linebackers have participated in the league's biggest game, the Super Bowl.

Recruiting talented players at a position is much easier when a program has a proven track record of success. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that one of the nation's top linebacker prospects has Alabama listed among his top five choices.

Garnet Smith, a 6-foot-3, 218-pound linebacker from Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas, has the Tide high on his list. He has also taken notice of the Southeastern Conference and a previously mentioned star on the Alabama roster.

"Alabama is definitely in my top five," said Smith. "I love the SEC and I like watching Saleem Rasheed."

Like Rasheed, Smith plays from sideline to sideline as evidenced by his production on the field. As a junior, Smith tallied 81 tackles, 12 sacks, five fumbles recovered, three fumbles caused, and two blocked punts. His all-around play will make Smith a valuable weapon on the college level according to his head coach.

"Garnet runs well and he can do so many things," said Lamar High School Head Coach Eddy Peach. "He has a great ability to rush the passer or cover running backs and he's a physical player who can also play inside. Garnet is an outstanding athlete and he's dedicated to being an outstanding football player."

In the classroom, Smith carries a 2.8 GPA and he has already scored an 18 on the ACT. Coach Peach likes Smith's work ethic as a player and a student.

"Garnet works hard all the time and does everything the right way---on and off the field," said Coach Peach. "The teachers love him as much as the coaches do."

Smith is well aware of Coach Dennis Franchione and his staff from their time in his home state. In fact, he has seen more games involving the new Alabama staff than the majority of loyal fans who follow the Crimson Tide. Smith has also developed strong feelings about the Alabama coach recruiting him.

"I went to every TCU game as a sophomore and one game as a junior," said Smith. "I love Coach (Chris) Thurmond. I can trust him. He's been upfront about all of the questions I've asked."

Besides the Crimson Tide, other colleges on Smith's list are Florida, Louisiana State, Tennessee, and Texas. All of those programs would be wise to learn more about their sports management programs and listen to the other important factors in Smith's decision.

"I'm looking for an education in sports management because I want to be a coach," Smith said. "I'm also looking for a family environment among the coaches and players. I also think the student environment around the school is important. I want to see how they accept newcomers."

The first test of the environment at the Capstone could come in early November. Smith expects to make his first visit to Tuscaloosa during what could be an important western division showdown.

"I may attend the Alabama/LSU game as an unofficial visitor," said Smith.

Alabama partisans are hoping Smith's visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium is only the first of many for a linebacker who could add his name to a proud tradition.

Editor's Note: Signing the nation's elite prospects is a difficult task but the Crimson Tide is in excellent shape at this point in the process with Garnet Smith.

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