Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) High’s T.J. Smith is committed to Vanderbilt, but will visit three other schools between now and when he signs.
The three-star defensive end will take official visits to Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Wake Forest and Missouri.
One of the reasons he is considering the Razorbacks is his relationship with Arkansas defensive line coach Rory Segrest, with whom he talks to almost every day.
“Not only is he a great guy, but he seems like a great coach,” Smith said. “He’s a teacher. He can’t help but teach. Every time he came to my house, he taught me something.
“He would even help me with what I was doing during the season. That’s a big part of coaching – coaching is teaching.”
Segrest’s experience with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL also means a lot to Smith.
Smith’s Jan. 21 visit to Arkansas will be his first time in Fayetteville and he said he is looking forward to seeing the campus.
“I want to see what type of environment it is and get a feel for it,” Smith said. “I’ve met most of the coaches, but I really want to meet the strength and conditioning coach (Ben Herbert).”
With schools like Vanderbilt and Wake Forest in his top four, it is clear that academics are a top priority for Smith, a 3.8 GPA student.
He also considers the fact that Arkansas has produced several talented defensive ends in recent years, including Chris Smith, who currently plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Trey Flowers, who is projected to be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft.
“I look at things like that, but more importantly, I look at what a school offers academically,” Smith said. “Then I look at what we can do on the field.
“I feel like if I come and give maximum effort 100 percent of the time, I could be like those two guys.”
The Texas Bowl was a positive indicator for Smith, but he was impressed with the defense’s performance throughout the season, too.
Arkansas dominated Texas 31-7 and held the Longhorns to only 59 yards of offense, the lowest output by an FBS team this season. That game capped a season in which Arkansas’ defense improved from 76th to 10th nationally in total defense.
“I feel like (the Texas Bowl) was a window to see what Arkansas is going to be in the future,” Smith said. “They held Texas to seven points and had two shutouts this year. You can see how good they’re going to be.”
The turnaround can largely be credited to first-year defensive coordinator Robb Smith, who is another member of Arkansas’ staff that Smith has been in contact with.
“Coach Smith is a guy that’s recruiting me hard,” Smith said. “He really wants me (at Arkansas) and tells me every time we talk. I think he has done a great job with the program.”
Smith to Visit Arkansas this Month
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