Signing a quarterback in the 2009 recruiting class was not a priority to the coaches coming into this recruiting cycle. After signing 5-star E.J. Manuel in 2008 the team looked set with him, Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson. The latest talk is that Richardson may pursue baseball fulltime after this season, thus the coaches have decided to attempt to sign a signal caller for this class. One of their top targets is Eugene Smith from Miramar, FL. The 4-star quarterback is off to a good start this year after being named All-State as a junior.
"We're 5-1 this year so the season is going well," said Smith. "Our one loss was a big game to Cypress Bay which I'm not too happy about, but there are a lot more games to play. As far as my stats go I am not sure how many passing yards I have but I have 16 touchdown passes with 2 interceptions, and I have rushed for 2 other scores."
Eugene is rated as the 9th best quarterback in the nation, hence the interest from some of the top BCS programs in the country. Smith told NoleDigest that schools from all over have been sending him mail and that he's been talking to coaches from some of the schools he's considering.
"Recruiting is going well," said Smith. "I've been getting a lot of mail from schools all over asking me how things are going with my season and how I'm feeling about recruiting. Some of the schools sending me stuff are Alabama, LSU, Boston College, West Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, USF and Florida State. I've talked to coach Doc Holliday from West Virginia, Coach McGee from Michigan and Coach Scott from USF.I saw all the in-state schools this summer so I am looking at setting up visits with Alabama, West Virginia, Michigan, LSU and maybe USF or Tennessee."
Florida State has started going after the strong-armed quarterback with more intensity then they did previously. The Seminole coaches have always been interested in him, but now they're trying to get him to take a harder look at what they have to offer.
"I've been getting a lot of mail from FSU lately, "explained Smith, "and I've stayed in regular contact with them. I'm wide open and I'm evaluating each of these colleges, so FSU is still one of the one's I am looking at. Coach Coley and Coach Amato have been in contact with calls and emails telling me about the offense and their schedule. They are trying to get me to set up a visit and stuff like that."
When you look at the schools Smith is considering some of them are struggling while others are contending for conference championships. Quarterbacks often look at the team's success when they are being recruited, but for Smith he is looking at the scheme and how it'll fit him. He told NoleDigest that a team that's struggling some this year has just a good a shot as a team that's in the top 15.
"College football has shocked me this year with the upsets," explained Smith. "I'm watching how the season goes for some of these teams and how they play. When I look at them I take into consideration the players they have and the classes they are bringing in. Some of the teams I like don't have the players they need so they're bringing in the players that fit their system. All of these schools are big-time Division 1 schools with a lot of tradition so it's going to come down to the system they have and how it fits me as a player."
Earlier in the process Eugene thought he'd be making his decision on Signing Day. After talking it over with his parents, coaches and counselors at school he decided to enroll early.
"I'm not going to make my decision anymore on Signing Day, "said Smith on the change of plans for his announcement. "After talking to everyone I decided that I am going to graduate early. I feel that is important to me because it will allow me to get on campus to see how things work with the team. It'll allow me to take part in spring practice and it will give me the extra time to learn my playbook and what the coaches want from me. I was going to play in an All-American game, but now I don't think I am."
The coaches at FSU are showing a lot of interest in the talented Smith, but we won't know for sure if they'll play a part in his recruitment until he decides to make a visit or not. Those close to Smith have thought he'd be a player who'll play college football out of state, and after the conversation NoleDigest had with him, it looks like that may still be the case. Stay tuned to NoleDigest for further updates with Eugene, as well as the rest of the 2009 recruiting class.
*Smith, Scout.com's No. 9 quarterback, already has visits scheduled with Alabama on Nov. 1 and West Virginia on Nov. 7.