Bloomington, Ind. – Cortez Smith was nearly an IU recruiting casualty.
The 5-11, 193-pounder from Detroit's Cass Tech H.S. originally committed to the Hoosiers in June, thanks in large part to a strong relationship between Smith and IU assistant coach George Ricumstrict. Ricumstrict had coached Cortez's brother, Jason, at Central Michigan, and Cortez welcomed the opportunity to follow suit and play for Ricumstrict in Bloomington.
But that once rock-solid verbal turned pillow-soft as the college season wore on and IU's coaching situation remained up in the air. With no guarantees that IU Coach Bill Lynch or Ricumstrict would be back next fall, Smith had little choice but listen to what others had to say.
"The reason I was a little hesitant was because I didn't know if the head coach was going to be there," Smith said. "But as soon as he signed the four-year contract, that answered my questions. Now that it's a guarantee (the staff will be there), I'm sticking with Indiana."
Smith's official visit this past weekend further solidified that he will in fact wind up in Bloomington. He was one of 14 players in town, seven of whom had already committed. He was joined by his parents, and all involved came away even more impressed with IU after the visit.
"I loved the experience at Indiana," Smith said. "It was like a second home to me. It was everything I needed. The players are all really cool, and I really like the environment.
"I'm definitely committed to Indiana. My parents really liked it, and we were all excited about it when we got home. That's where I want to go."
Indiana will be getting a player who is capable of playing on either side of the ball. As a junior he rushed for 1,125 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he followed that up with a 150-carry, 943-yard, five-touchdown senior season. His senior season production slipped a bit in large part because he played cornerback as well, where he used his 4.43 speed in the 40 to lock down opponents' top wide receivers.
"My body was hurting every game," Smith said about playing on just about every snap this fall. "It was a pounding."
He'll be able to focus on one side of the ball at IU, and he said indications are it will be on offense.
"I talked to the running backs coach (Gerald Brown) and he said definitely running back," Smith said. "That's where he wants me."
Smith admits that if he had his choice he'd play offense, but the thought of moving to the defensive side isn't something he'd be adverse to doing.
"If they need me somewhere else, it's no problem," Smith said. "They can switch me."
While a switch of positions is always a possibility, a switch to another school is something Smith is no longer contemplating. The fact the staff is returning in tact and that the program is taking a big step forward with a bowl berth ended that possibility.
"(IU's bowl berth is) one of the reason I liked Indiana -they're rebuilding, and I see the progress they're making and the recruits they are bringing in," Smith said.
Smith Comfortable with IU Pledge?
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