Smith goes 1-on-1 with Venables

During his Elite Junior Day visit to Clemson, three-star linebacker Chad Smith found out just how good defensive coordinator Brent Venables thinks he is.

OLB Chad Smith Profile

Venables a likes the Dominion High School [Sterling, Va.] junior an awful lot.

"He told me I was the No. 1 linebacker on his board," Smith told CUTigers, during a recent interview.

"I was really impressed and humbled by that. He told me that he'd love to down me have at Clemson. He said we can have something -- this defense can do something special with you on it. His whole message to me was I have an opportunity there at Clemson where I can do what I want to do. He can put me where I want to go and build relationships that last a lifetime.

"That really hit home with me. As I go on some of these other junior days, there was a standard set at Clemson that will be tough to beat."

Smith, who got into town on Friday, went into some of the other specifics that led him feeling so good after Saturday's visit.

"They did an excellent job at the Junior Day, showing the recruits the Clemson way that they have down there, the family-oriented community and the school, and the football program that they have down there," he said. "They emphasized a lot, what they're all about -- they're all about the players.

"The football program they have and the coaches, everything revolves around the players and their needs, not only on the field, but off the field. Honestly, I thought that really went home with a lot of recruits there. It did with me. I was really impressed with their message.

"The facilities were top-notch. What they're doing, what their future is right now and where they're headed, it was really impressive. I came away very, very impressed with what they have down there."

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound prospect went into detail about his first few hours on campus.

"I was able to get to spend a little time with the players that [Friday] night," Smith said. "I got to see what they were all about. I got to pick their brains about Clemson and why they chose Clemson.

"The next day, I was able to meet up with coach Venables, chit-chat with him, and also coach [Dabo] Swinney in the morning. Throughout the day, we toured the facilities. I was pretty much talking with coach Venables all along the way. At the very end, before we left, we had a very lengthy conversation."

That's when Venables left him with that final message. Though Smith feels good about where things stand in Tigertown, he won't be making a decision anytime soon.

"I don't really have a No. 1 right now. I'll have a No. 1 as we get closer to football season, towards the end of summer, I'll have a top three or something like that," Smith said.

As a junior, he had 96 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six interceptions, a pick-6 and recovered a fumble. On the offensive side of the ball, Smith rushed 78 times for 760 yards and 12 touchdowns.

CUTigers.com Top Stories