Smith Says AU/Clemson Close After Last Visit

Talented Seffner High running back Eric Smith talks about his visit to Auburn and interest in Clemson.

Seffner, Fla.--After a busy weekend on an official recruiting visit to Auburn, decision time for running back Eric Smith is just around the corner.

The talented 5-11, 225-pounder from Armwood High School in Florida is scheduled to announce his college choice next Saturday choosing between the Auburn Tigers and the Clemson Tigers. Auburn edged Clemson 23-20 on New Year's Eve in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta and Smith was an interested spectator back home in Seffner.

"I thought it was one of the best bowl games this year," the high school senior tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

"There were a lot of good things happening," he says. "Auburn just put in a new offense in a couple of days, nine days as Coach (Greg) Knox was telling me, and I felt like they ran it pretty good and there is a lot more that will come out of that offense. They still pulled the game out running it so there are some good things to look ahead to."

Smith notes he previously had a good visit to Clemson and that was the case at Auburn, too.

"Friday night, my host was Mario Fannin, but I spent some time with Mike (McNeil)," Smith says. "Saturday my host was Ben Tate and we went out and before that we went out to eat at the Tiger's Den and we had a good time talking and mingling with a lot of players and coaches.

"They fed me very well," Smith notes of his weekend in Auburn. "I ate a lot and think I gained a little bit of weight, but I am ready to run it off."

Smith says he likes the coaches and players he met on his official visit. "They have a lot of intelligent players on the team," he states. "Friday we went and sat in Coach Gran's (running back coach Eddie Gran) office and Brad Lester came in and was sitting and talking to me and my mom and everybody knows he went through a little bit academically. He was ineligible and everything and he was telling me just to come in and be on top of your grades and stay on top of everything-- don't be like him and there is definitely a chance I could come in and play early if I stay on top of everything.

"Ben told me a lot of good things Saturday night," says Smith, noting that the running back came in as an honor student but found out as a college freshman it is a "big transition" academically.

"A lot of people gave me a lot of good insight and told me not to let any coaches pressure you into making a decision--it's your choice, do the right thing, don't let anybody pressure you," Smith adds.

The Seffner High star, who notes that he is an honor student himself, says he is interesting in majoring in criminology or forensics. He notes that he met with academic officials on his trip to AU.

Another football coach he spent time with is Tony Franklin, Auburn's new offensive coordinator. "He sat down me and my mom in his office and he was showing us tape of him at Kentucky and his running backs almost had 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing. He was telling me that he liked me in that type of offense because I have soft hands coming out of the backfield and I see things great, and I am a good runner like he is looking for so I appreciate that very much. He gave me a lot of good insight and showed my a lot of new schemes on offense."

Commenting on how his Auburn visit compared to his Clemson visit, he says, "It is very close because they are two of the same type of schools. Both of them are in college towns, I think Clemson is a little bit bigger, though. There are a lot of similarities and some differences, also. It's a very close race. Both of them are on the rise. They are two great programs so I can't go wrong with any decision."

Eric Smith was a standout at an Auburn summer football camp prior to his senior season.

Smith says that overall the trip to Auburn was a good one. "Most definitely," he points out. "I always felt like they had a lot of running backs, but coming up to Auburn and looking at the depth chart and Coach Gran showing me everything, now I feel a lot more comfortable.

"It's not really about the depth chart anyway," he adds. "You are going to have to battle for your position. That is the way I see it. I felt a lot more comfortable coming up there and seeing that, especially with the players coming up and giving me insight from being there already."

Auburn fans and Clemson fans won't have to wait much longer to find out where Smith plans to play college football. "On Saturday I will be making my decision," he says. "I'll be at Beef O'Brady's down the street from Armwood High School at a little press conference."

Click here for the full list of official visitors. Below is a list of other recruits to talk with Inside the Auburn Tigers about their visits this weekend. Click on their names for the reports.

Philip Pierre-Louis
Christian Thompson
Jarmon Fortson
Freddie Smooth
LaRon Byrd
Jomarcus Savage
Robert Quinn
Burton Scott
William Green
Vance Smith
Reggie Hunt
Drew Cole
Marcus Jemison

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