Geno Smith is a wanted man. More than 20 schools have offered scholarships to the Atlanta cornerback, including most of the top programs in the Southeast and several Midwest powerhouses. Illinois is bucking the odds, but assistant coach Chip Long has established a line of communication.
"He's in touch with me all the time. He's a cool guy, he's a high-energy guy. Me and him are constantly talking. He's telling me to get after it in track practice. We talk both on Facebook and on the phone."
One might think a top prospect like Smith would tire quickly of all the attention from various schools, but the opposite is true.
"I'm enjoying it. Right now I'm wide open. I'm considering everybody I'm in contact with. I'm interested in anyone that's interested in me right now."
What is the St. Pius X star looking for in a college?
"I want to get a good education. I kind of want to major in Broadcasting or Business Management, so that's a key factor right there. I know Illinois has a great program for both of them because I talked to my counselor about it.
"And the relationship with the coaches is important. Also, the defensive schemes and having a pipeline to producing NFL defensive backs. Distance from home is not a factor."
Smith hopes to see the Illini in person.
"I plan on visiting Illinois this summer. If I get up there, I definitely plan on seeing Illinois."
Smith plays for a quality program.
"We finished 10-3 and made the second round of the playoffs. We had a great year. Last year we were 13-1. We have about seven guys coming back on both sides of the ball. I think we'll be very good next year."
He had a great season individually as well.
"I made All-State. I had 8 interceptions, 47 tackles and 14 pass breakups. I also played tailback. I had 71 carries for 731 yards and 8 touchdowns."
The 6'-0", 165 pounder has assets indicating great potential as a cornerback.
"My speed and my hips. I have a good change of direction. I have good closing speed."
Strength gains are a must for the slender athlete. Smith describes what else he is working to improve.
"Since I'm a taller corner, I want to work on my backpedal stance and staying low, just working on technique."
Smith has also established himself as a track star.
"I'm doing pretty well. I run the 100, 200, 4 X 100 and the long jump. My best event is probably the 200. My best time is 22.1."