Tide pursues JUCO linebacker

With the graduation of Derrick Pope, Alabama will lose a hard-nosed, tough-minded linebacker who will be hard to replace. Which could explain the Tide's interest in junior college linebacker Terrence Smith.

Out of Hightower High School in Houston, Texas, Smith (6-3, 235, 4.6) spent the past two seasons competing for Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Mississippi.

"I really don't have any favorites right now," Terrence Smith told TheInsiders.com in an interview Monday night. "Texas Tech has been recruiting me the hardest up to now. They came around in the spring.

"Alabama just came around about a month ago."

The Tide may have gotten in on Smith a bit late, but there is obvious mutual interest. Along with teammates Chris Turner (defensive end) and Chris Herring (defensive tackle), Smith will take an official visit to the Alabama campus this weekend.

"I went to Texas Tech in October," Smith said of an earlier official visit. "I'm going to Alabama this weekend and have scheduled Texas A&M for January 23rd.

"But I might not go to that one."

Smith says he was not a sign and place out of high school, so he has no lingering allegiance to any school. His decision will be made based on what he sees as the best fit for him as an athlete.

"Alabama really came in the mix my last three ballgames," Smith related. "Coach Joe Kines (Bama's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach) came to watch me play."

Used at defensive end his first year of junior college, Smith moved to middle linebacker this season where he clearly found a home.

"I had 141 total tackles, 103 solo tackles, four sacks, 12 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles and three pass break-ups," Smith said in relating his season statistics.

Terrence Smith (#7) is considered a prototype middle linebacker. (photo courtesy of Northwest Mississippi CC)

Smith and teammate Chris Herring were both selected All-Region XXIII following the season. Both were also named first team MACJC All-State.

Smith is eligible to sign with any Division 1A school this February. Upon enrolling in the fall, he would have three years to get in two more seasons of college football.

"I really do not have a preference right now," Smith said of his upcoming decision. "On my visit this weekend (to Alabama) I'll be looking to meet some of the players and other coaches."

Obviously Smith is already familiar with Coach Kines. And he's gotten to know Sparky Woods as well.

"Coach Woods is the one recruiting me," Smith explained. "I feel real comfortable with him on the phone. He tells me the real deal. He does not try to hide anything. He is very straight up with me."

Geography is always a factor in recruiting, and Texas-to-Alabama game-day drives are not easy. But Smith indicated that along with A&M and Texas Tech, Alabama was at the top of his list, should he receiver a firm scholarship offer.

"I want to talk to my family at Christmas," Smith said of his future school. "I'll probably make my decision in mid-January."

RECRUITING NOTES: Schools are limited in the number of official visits they can extend, so by definition the Tide is obviously interested in Smith.

Also, major schools like Alabama do not sign junior college players unless they believe the athlete can contribute immediately.

Smith is rated a four-star prospect by TheInsiders.com network, meaning he would be expected to step in and compete for a starting job right away.

Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 22 players in February, anticipating that several will not become qualified. It's also possible that one or more players may be asked to delay entry into The University until the following January, counting against 2005 scholarship numbers, depending on how qualifying issues play out.

Read all of the recent recruiting stories on Alabama recruits from TheInsiders.com.

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