The Kentucky Wildcats have picked up their seventh in-state verbal and their eighth commitment overall for the 2002 football recruiting season.
Owensboro's Tyler "Bo" Smith made his decision Tuesday following a weekend in which he visited Lexington for an official visit and the Florida game. According to Red Devils coach Gordon Powers, UK had long been No. 1 on his player's list, but the visit solidified his thinking.
"I think he likes everything about Kentucky," Powers said. "He really liked it when he went there for camp this summer, getting to work one-on-one with the coaches and getting a chance to see all the facilities and academics they have to offer."
Even more of a factor, however, might have been seeing the Cats in action against Louisville and Florida.
"The one thing he said that really impressed me was, when he was up there for an unoffical visit at the Louisville game, he got sit up in the stands with all these other prospects. When things went bad for Kentucky in the fourth quarter and Louisville started pulling away, he said a lot of those kids were saying 'I don't know if I want to come here or not. They don't look very good,'" Powers said. "Well, you know a lot of these recruits think they're better than they really are, and they tend to say things like that. Bo's response was 'I really think I can help this team.' That tells you something about the attitude he brings to the table."
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Smith is a two-way star for Owensboro, playing both running back and free safety. He's rushed for 881 yards on only 57 carries (15.4 per attempt), including a 297-yard game two weeks ago against crosstown rival Apollo.
But it's his defense --- and raw athleticism --- that attracted college scouts. In picking UK, he turned down offers from Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana and Illinois, among others.
"He's got that one thing that helps anyone -- speed," said Powers, noting that Smith was timed at 4.4-flat at the Western Kentucky combine and finished third in the state 200-meter dash.
He also describes Smith as "probably the best open-field tackler I've ever had."
"A lot of coaches commented about his closing speed," Powers said. "He could probably play corner really well, but we use him at free safety because he loves contact, he loves to hit, and if a team breaks one on us, they're probably going to have to line up and snap it again because Bo will end the play."
Smith joins the following players who have given verbal commitments to UK:
RB - Arliss Beach, Ashland 6-0, 185
OL - Joe Brady, Beechwood, 6-3, 290
WR/DB - Andre Jones, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., 6-0, 185
DT - Paul Webb, Johnson Central, 6-5, 275
LB - Brad Booker, Bowling Green, 6-1, 210
LB - Durrell White, Middlesboro, 6-3, 225
DB - Randy Driver, Glasgow, 6-1, 205
2001 non-qualifiers expected to re-sign
* LB - Chad Anderson, Canton, Ohio, 6-4, 255
* WR - Darimy Crawford, Albany, Ga., 6-5, 195