Branden Smith's recruitment may be one of the most open of any big-time player this recruiting season. The 4-star speedster from Atlanta-Washington has had his pick of any school as approximately 50 schools have offered him a scholarship. With his final 4 of Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Georgia, Smith has finally begun the process of making his decision. Last weekend Branden took his 4th official visit when he checked out Florida State. Heading into the visit some insiders felt that FSU was on the outside looking in, and that of the 4 remaining school that the Seminoles had the least shot to land him. He told NoleDigest that the visit was really good and that the Seminoles put themselves in a good position.
"Everything about the visit was really good," said Smith about his time at Florida State. "It was the first time seeing Florida State and the visit made me wanting to see more. I like the program they have; they are down from where've they been but they'll come back. They are one of the schools with the most people in the NFL. I like that. I also liked the atmosphere, coaches and the academics. It was just a good time."
One of the facts the coaches at Florida State have been hammering home is that they need cornerbacks pretty badly. With Tony Carter and Michael Ray Garvin leaving, and the possibility of Patrick Robinson maybe testing the NFL waters, corner has turned into a high priority for the 2009 class. Braden is at the top of FSU's wish list, and he says the coaches made it a point to show him that over the weekend.
"While I was on my visit the coaches made it known to me that they need corners," explained Smith. "For FSU it's more how about how they need me, not just want me. That is one of the important things, knowing that they need corners and playmakers. I most definitely saw that they could use me. No matter where I go I am going to work hard. I like to compete. I'm going to come in to a school with my head straight. I have high expectations of myself."
Smith told NoleDigest that he spent time on his visit watching film with the coaching staff and that he enjoyed talking to Terrell Buckley, the former Nole All-American.
"I watched film on the defensive backs with the coaches and spent some one-on-one time with them," said Smith. "I also looked at the depth chart; they took off all of the seniors of the depth chart and you could see the early playing time they have there. They also talked to me about playing special teams for them, which is something I want to do. Talking to Coach Buckley was awesome. He has so much experience and has played with so many good people. FSU has a great tradition of corners and he thinks I could be apart of the list of All-Americans they've had there."
One of the rumors going around in recruiting circles was that Smith was only taking his official to FSU to check out the Gators again. He discounts that, but also says it's smart of him to take the chance to see a school he is considering again. He said if the roles were reversed, he'd do the same for the Noles.
"I didn't go to FSU to see UF again," stated Smith. "I already had the chance to see Florida on my visit, but why not see a team I'm considering again. I think that it's smart of me to do that. If I had the chance to see FSU again, I'd to it. It was just who they played this week."
Alabama, Florida and Georgia all were ranked at one time in the top 5 this season and all have had great seasons. FSU has had a better season then they've seen recently, but they still lost 4 games in the regular season. For some recruits current success is a factor they are looking at, but for players like Branden it doesn't mean much to them.
"The game didn't hurt FSU," said Smith. "Even though they lost it means nothing to me now. Winning games in the SEC and ACC is tough. Look at Alabama; they only won 7 games last year but now are the number one team in the nation. FSU could be the same exact way. You never know and you can never tell with teams. The only thing that'll go into this decision is the program, the players and the academics. The future of the team is what I want to see."
"I had a good time talking to the two freshmen knowing that they play defensive back," stated Smith. "I heard something from them that made me think and that showed me what I have been hearing is right; it's one thing to hear from the coaches that they need corners, but to hear it from two guys who play DB was a good thing. That made me think a little more about them (FSU)."
The only school Smith has yet to visit is Georgia, and its one school many have pegged to be the favorite school for the talented corner. Georgia did something that was smart as they had 6 coaches go visit Smith for a visit after he got back from his FSU visit. He says seeing the coaches was surprising, but it was also very pleasing to have them visit. He still says that he is open, though.
"The visit with the Georgia coached went very well," said Smith. "It was a little surprising because that is a lot of coaches, you know. Being one of the first home visits they made meant a lot to me and it showed that they really want me. I thought it was smart to do that coming off my good visit to FSU."
"People are trying to think ahead of me all the times with the rumors," continued Smith about the rumors of him being a Bulldog lean. "First it was Clemson and that I was going there. Then when I dropped them it was Georgia. The people who make these rumors don't have a clue about what I'm thinking. I'm not going to give anyone any ideas about what I'm thinking, mainly because I don't know what I am thinking. To be truthfully honest I am just as confused as anyone."
Smith will make his visit to Georgia before the holidays then take some time to consider all of his options. Once the decision is made at the ESPN All-American game he says it'll be final. Stay tuned to NoleDigest as we track Smith's recruitment, as well as the rest of the recruits from the 2009 class.