UNC in Smith’s Favorite Four

Following a junior day visit to North Carolina, Jonathan Smith lists the Tar Heels among his favorite schools.

“They are in my top four,” Smith said. “It’s just everything. Every time I go up there, it’s not just one coach I talk to – it’s everyone from the chaplain to the head coach to the defensive coordinator.”

Eleven schools have offered Smith, a 6-foot, 214-pound linebacker from Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland County. Among the field of offering schools, he says Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, and UNC are the four that stick out.

“They all have great coaching staffs,” Smith said. “And getting up there and getting to know everyone that’s up there and just seeing what they’re all about.”

Smith plans to make his first trips to Georgia Tech and Michigan in the coming months. Tobacco Road rivals Duke and UNC, on the other hand, have received countless visits from the nation’s No. 19-ranked middle linebacker. Most recently, he was in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels’ Junior Day held in conjunction with the UNC-Duke basketball game.

“It was a very fun experience,” Smith said. “They had a lot of stuff set up for us before we came in. I was able to bond with the recruits that they thought were going to be committing there. We played in a corn hole tournament and that was pretty fun. It was a great time.”

For the aforementioned corn hole tournament, Smith was paired with fellow linebacker Jaquan Yulee. The duo reached the final four, but more importantly got to know each other on a personal level.

“We talked about our offers [and] our plans for if we ever came to Carolina – what we would do,” Smith said.

In addition to Yulee, Smith says he really bonded with four-star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.

“He was just asking me about what I thought about Carolina,” Smith said. “And I asked him [the same]. And then we just exchanged Twitter handles to stay in contact.”

Throughout the day, Smith conversed with Larry Fedora and UNC assistant coaches Gene Chizik and John Papuchis.

“They told me that they really want me there and they really want me to be the centerpiece for their defense,” Smith said. “I really like hearing that, because it means I’ll have a great chance of getting early playing time.”

Papuchis has taken the lead on Smith’s recruitment. According to Smith, the two communicate “all the time” through Twitter.

“He just tells me how much he wants me to come there and be a part of the defense,” Smith said.

Smith plans to revisit UNC this Saturday. While the junior day earlier in the month was more for excitement, Saturday’s visit is more for education.

“I want to see more of the campus,” Smith said. “That’s pretty much it, because I have a pretty good relationship with the coaching staff.”

A week later, Smith’s schedule has him returning to his birth state to attend Georgia’s Junior Day. Before leaving Athens, he hopes to bring his scholarship offer total to a complete dozen.

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