Smith's beliefs turned into reality on Saturday when Trinity Christian defeated Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic to claim the FHSAA 3A. It was Trinity Christian's first title in a classification higher than 1A.
"It was one of the best decisions of my life," Smith said. "I went to a great program with great coaches and great players, and a lot of competition to get me better."
Smith, a 6-foot, 215-pound linebacker, wasn't simply a bystander for Trinity Christian's run to the title. He led a defense that included five other prospects with FBS offers in solo tackles. He also recorded 11 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.
"I just learned how to play my position and other positions better," Smith said. "I've developed more knowledge of the game, what the offense is trying to do, watch more film, learn football, and made more plays. I made big plays in the playoffs that really changed the whole season around."
Winning a state championship wasn't Smith's sole reason for making the move.
"[Trinity Christian] is the No. 1 recruited school in the nation," Smith said. "… [College] coaches come through all the time."
The added exposure helped Smith land offers from Georgia Tech and UNC, among others.
Once on its roster, Smith became a starter in Trinity Christian's 5-3 defensive scheme, which converts to a 3-3 stack for certain opponents, at the "Storm" (strong-side) linebacker.
"I took the C gap if they brought a tight end in," Smith said. "I made sure nothing came into my gap.
"If we played a passing team or when we played Madison County and they ran the ball a lot, [our coaches] wanted a big body that they could put on the edge to take on fullbacks and guards trying to take us out."
Within UNC's 4-2-5 defensive scheme, Smith anticipates playing MIKE linebacker.
"I think they'll put me in the middle, but on passing situations, they could put me on the edge," Smith said. "I think I'm kind of versatile where I could do that."
Dan Disch made an evaluation visit to Trinity Christian on Thursday – a day before the team departed for Orlando for the championship game. Later that day, Disch and Smith spoke over the phone.
"We have a strong relationship," Smith said. "It's going real good."
Despite the bond with Disch, Smith hasn't completely ended his recruitment.
"I'm firm, but I'm still looking because you never know what could happen with the program," Smith said. "So, I just want to keep my options open."
Smith doesn't have any visits to other schools planned. Additionally, outside of Georgia Tech, he's unsure of any definite destinations.
Smith does plan to return to Chapel Hill within the next couple of months with his parents for a Tar Heel basketball game.
"We haven't planned it," Smith said. "My mom just said the month of December. If that doesn't work out, we'll visit in January or come to one of the junior days."