As if there weren't enough twists and turns in the recruitment of defensive tackle Gavin Smith, there has been another development.
Smith gave a verbal commitment to NC State back in July of 2004, the first verbal in the Wolfpack's 2006 class. When other schools starting calling, he listened. Eventually Smith decommitted from NC State and signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Virginia, spurning offers from the Wolfpack, and South Carolina among others.
It turns out that Smith will not enroll at Virginia as planned. He had the second-highest SAT score of Cavalier signees but difficult circumstances caused his grade point average to suffer.
"Gavin has been released from his scholarship by Virginia," said Smith's mother, DeAnne Smith. "They had been requiring him to meet certain requirements, but he didn't do that."
If you think that is all there was to the story, think again. As you may recall, earlier this year four Wakefield High School students were killed in a car accident while traveling home from a high school basketball playoff game at East Carolina. Those four students happened to be Gavin Smith's best friends. In fact, if Smith did not have to leave for home early, he might have been in that car.
"When that happened Gavin practically dropped out of high school," she continued. "He was devastated. He was obviously very upset and there was just terrible fall-out from the incident.
"Between that and all the demands being placed on him from the dean and the constant demands from the coaching staff, it was just too much.
"Whenever Gavin would struggle in a class I would have him re-take it. The NCAA factors in the best grade you receive in a class, but high schools have to factor in each grade you get in a class, every time you take it."
Smith has spent the past two weeks in Charlottesville, Virginia, preparing to begin school at Virginia. After receiving the news that he would not be admitted, he decided to look elsewhere.
"He was getting homesick as it was," she said. "So he's just going to come back home and take a summer course that he needs here at Wakefield."
When Smith committed to NC State, he was committing to a school that offered him prior to his junior season. It is no surprise that he was interested in other schools once they started showing more interest. One reason he eventually signed on with Virginia was their strong history program. Smith never had a falling out with NC State and now hopes that the coaching staff will let him back on board.
"Gavin absolutely adores Coach Stroud," his mother continued. "He's been like a father to him. Even after he committed to Virginia I think a big part of him still really wanted to play for Coach Stroud. When Coach Stroud took the position at State that he's currently in, Gavin was the first player he offered.
"One thing that has really impressed us about NC State is that after Gavin decided to visit Virginia they were very respectful of him. They didn't pressure him or anything. They knew it was his decision."
When Smith was released from his scholarship and he contacted NC State, it was once more coach Stroud that he sought out.
"We're just hopeful at this point. The NC State coaches were recruiting Gavin when he was in the 8th grade, and they offered him very early. He's been through so much and he's a very smart kid. I know he wants to be at NC State.
"Everything depends on Gavin finishing his class at Wakefield and graduating. Once that happens, then he can meet with the academic committee and they would make a decision. Then, it will be up to the coaches. We're hoping they still want him, but Gavin has a lot to take care of before then."
The Virginia coaching staff gave Smith the option of attending Fork Union for a year, but that does not appear to be something he wants to do. He feels as though he has worked hard enough over the past four years to play college football in the fall.
DeAnne Smith had good reasons for spelling out all the facts and details involved in her son's situation.
"I know how rumors can get started, and I just wanted to get the real story out there. Gavin reads all the websites, and he sees how people can get the wrong idea. Some people were even saying I was crazy," she laughed.
"We just hope the coaches and everyone at NC State will welcome him back and understand what he's been through if he takes care of what he needs to do."
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