Impact Nose Guard to Visit Navy

There are eleven positions in Buddy Green's 3-4 defense, and none of them is more important than the nose guard. Green will be the first to tell you that, although recruiting a dominant, two-gap run-stuffer for a 3-4 defense can be a challenge for any NCAA team, much less a service academy. But the Navy staff isn't without a target, and will be getting a big (literally) visit this weekend.

Ryan Smith is an athletic freak. There's just no way around it.

At 310-pounds the Henry Clay(Lexington, KY) defender has the size to take on double teams on the interior of any defensive line, while his 4.9-second 40-yard dash and 29" vertical leap gives him the speed and explosiveness to pass rush off the edge. A dynamic athlete who could play either nose guard or defensive end, Smith has already garnered heavy interest from several elite SEC conference programs, including LSU and Kentucky.

Despite his status as an impact defender, Smith holds only one offer so far. It came last week, when Navy offensive line coach Ashley Ingram gave the Henry Clay star a ring. It wasn't the first time Smith had heard from Ingram, who first saw the Kentucky senior during the spring and immediately began recruiting him.

"(Coach Ingram) just fell in love with me and said how I'd be perfect for them," Smith said. "He said he was going to go back and tell the coaches and said they'd definitely offer me."

Smith kept up with Navy through the first part of the summer, and originally planned on visiting the Academy this past weekend. While he ultimately had to postpone the visit, he nevertheless received the news he was waiting for when coach Ingram called back to offer Smith a scholarship. The offer has only perked Smith's interest in the Academy, which he plans to visit this coming weekend.

"Everyone I talk to says the campus is beautiful," he said. "Everyone who has been there says if I can get up there I should. So it's what I'm trying to do."

Smith admits that he still has a number of questions about the Academy, and isn't too familiar with the military component required after graduation. Nevertheless, the senior defensive tackle has been impressed with what he has seen of Navy on the field.

"Just the way they play football – the triple option, running, eight straight bowl games," Smith said. "I watched them play the Ohio State game. I thought that was pretty awesome. They went to Ohio State's house and almost beat them."

"It's big-time football," Smith added, saying that Navy is "just a good football program."

It's pretty high praise for Navy, especially considering the other schools which have been busy recruiting Smith. He's already camped at Kentucky, Louisville and Missouri, and has been in contact with LSU – including head coach Les Miles. So why haven't more offers come?

"My height," Smith said matter-of-factly. "(Schools) tell me to my face it's my height." Smith is currently listed at 6-foot-1.

"Louisville – when I went up to their camp – all the coaches really liked me," he added. "My height didn't bother them. I believe they will be my next offer."

More offers could be on the way. After a strong camp showing at Missouri, Smith will camp at LSU following a visit to Annapolis. He indicated a strong interest in all three schools, although said that he was especially intrigued by Navy's academic environment.

"It's a pretty prestigious school," Smith said. "(Coach Ingram) was telling me about how they have like 53 astronauts graduate from there, and you can go to the FBI and all of that. I thought that was pretty cool."

Smith will use his visit to Annapolis to get further acquainted with the military aspects of the academy, including life as a midshipman as well as the service requirements required after graduation. He said he doesn't have much in the way of family history in the military, and would need to learn more before deciding if the academy route was for him.

"I don't know (what it would be like attending the Academy)," said Smith. "I know it's going to be tough, but I don't know yet. That's the only thing I'm worried about. Everything else is perfect."

Smith currently lists Navy among his favorites, and said that his ultimate decision will come down to which school he feels most comfortable at.

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