Smith Sees Opportunity at UNC

Despite missing his initial flight, North Carolina pledge Andre Smith touched down in Chapel Hill at 1 pm – 30 minutes after the North Carolina-Virginia Tech game kicked off – for his UNC official visit.

“It was about the start of the second quarter when I arrived,” Smith said. “The defense played well, but obviously it wasn’t enough to win.

“The outcome doesn’t really affect me [negatively], because I’d rather go to a school where I’m needed instead of [where I’m] wanted. I want to go where they need me to win games, instead of just wanting me just to add to their depth chart.”

Smith, a 6-foot, 238-pound linebacker from Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian, sees opportunity at UNC. Also, he sees an improvement in UNC’s fan support in just a year’s time.

“It definitely changed from last year when I went to the Boston College game,” Smith said. “The stadium wasn’t sold out at that time – this time it was. It was good to see the fans supporting the team. It was nice to see the sea of blue, the band, and the student section. Everything was loud – I like loud. It was energized and I think that energizes the players – I know it energizes me.”

Smith is quickly approaching the anniversary of his verbal commitment to UNC. He pledged to the Tar Heels sight unseen on Oct. 15 of last year. Over the course of a year, he has made four visits to Chapel Hill, with this past weekend’s official trip the most recent.

“This visit doesn’t really affect my commitment,” Smith said. “If anything, it reaffirms that I made the right decision.”

Despite those feelings, Smith plans to still officially visit other schools. He took an official trip to Nebraska in September and is working on dates with Michigan and Wisconsin.

“I’m strong [in my commitment to UNC],” Smith said. “I’m just using my opportunities that a lot of people don’t get.”

Smith plans to enroll early at UNC, but has yet to sign his Athletic Scholarship Agreement.

“I think I have to send them some documents [before I can sign my ASA],” Smith said. “I think I have my official transcripts. I just have to send them my current classes that I’m taking right now and then something else. We’ll get all that handled.”

Smith says not signing his ASA has nothing to do with taking visits elsewhere.

Redshirt freshman safety Donnie Miles served as Smith’s player host over the weekend.

“He’s from Miami, but moved to Georgia,” Smith said. “The last three or four times I came here, that’s who I was with.

“He just showed me Franklin Street basically. He introduced to me a lot of people that attend this school and a lot of people that attend surrounding schools. It was just cool to see the night life of Franklin Street and North Carolina.”

When he wasn’t with Miles, Smith was usually with Dan Disch, his primary recruiter.

“We talked about the depth chart,” Smith said. “But mostly, he just made sure I had a good time.”

Smith also spent plenty of time with Larry Fedora, including at dinner on Saturday night and during a one-on-one meeting on Sunday before departing.

“It was just jokes,” Smith said. “We talked about First Coast and Trinity and the little rivalry we have in Jacksonville.”

The First Coast-Trinity Christian “rivalry” (the two schools play in different classifications and thus don’t meet on the football field) became a topic of conversation because Trinity Christian players Ben Edwards and Smith, and First Coast lineman William Sweet were all on campus for their official visits.

Smith’s stay also included a meeting with Ron West, the Tar Heels’ linebackers coach.

“We just had a general conversation,” Smith said. “We talked about depth. We talked about where he wants to play me. We talked about other linebackers that I could possibly be playing with and their situation. And we watched film and I got to see the defensive scheme.”

West project Smith to play Will linebacker within UNC’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme.

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