Smiley Crowns Leader

After officially visiting North Carolina over the weekend, Sam Smiley now has a favorite school.

"North Carolina is my leader," Smiley said. "The coaches showed me love, I like the players, and I like the social life."

However, Smiley, a 6-foot, 170-pound athlete from Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines, isn't quite ready to make a verbal commitment.

"I'm still going to wait it out, because I have an official visit with Middle Tennessee left," Smiley said. "After that, I'll make my decision."

Smiley is scheduled to officially visit Middle Tennessee the weekend of Jan. 21, but he's attempting to move it up to this coming weekend.

"If I can move it to the 14th, then I can make my decision faster," Smiley said.

Originally, Smiley was scheduled to take an official visit to Syracuse this coming weekend. But that trip has since been canceled.

Florida International has been attempting to host Smiley for an official trip, but he has declined thus far.

"FIU is lower than all the other schools," Smiley said.

Although he'll make his decision shortly after visiting Middle Tennessee, Smiley won't make it known to the public until National Signing Day. He will, though, inform the "winning" coaching staff.

"We have a traditional Signing Day ceremony at my school," Smiley said. "Everybody comes – the cameras and all that."

Smiley is going to decide between Middle Tennessee, UNC, and Purdue, which he officially visited in December.

"I'm just going to see what program fits me best," Smiley said.

During his UNC official visit, Smiley toured the campus, spoke to academic advisors, and met with both Troy Douglas and Everett Withers individually.

"[Douglas and Withers] were talking about technique and how they were going to change me into a good player," Smiley said. "[They said] it won't take long for me to get onto the field."

Smiley has started at quarterback for Raines since his junior season. UNC, though, is projecting him as a defensive back with a focus on cornerback.

"[Douglas and Withers] talked about Mywan [Jackson] and how he's advancing," Smiley said. "They talked about Ed Reed – [Butch Davis] changed him from a quarterback to a defensive back – and Sean Taylor, he was coming in as a running back but Davis changed him to a safety.

"They feel corner is my best position, because of my athleticism."

Smiley met with Davis both on Saturday and Sunday before he ended his official visit.

"[He discussed] how long it would take me to find out my decision on going there," Smiley said. "[He also talked about] their academics and how I could be a help to North Carolina."

Jonathan Smith, a senior safety, hosted Smiley throughout his stay.

"We had fun – we had a blast," Smiley said. "He took me around, introduced me to everybody, and he kept it real about the coaches. It didn't sound like he was lying about anything, because he was telling me the same thing that I heard from other people about Coach Butch and how he changes players' positions and puts them in the pros."

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