Smith Has Decision Timeline

Linebacker Jonathan Smith has a self-imposed deadline for his decision.

RANDLEMAN, N.C. --- Considering his history, there’s a 100-percent chance that Jonathan Smith verbally commits prior to the kickoff of his senior football season, he says.

“I’ll do it before the week of our first game,” Smith said. “You never know what’s going to happen during the season – injuries could come up.”

Smith’s Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland squad opens up the season on Aug. 21 against Hope Mills (N.C.) South View.

Smith, 6-foot, 228-pound linebacker, was promoted to varsity as a sophomore but missed that entire season with a knee injury.

A commitment won’t mark the end of Smith’s recruitment. He plans to take all five of his official visits. Favorites Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, UNC, and NC State have been penciled in as destinations.

Smith ascribes his relationship with the coaching staff for UNC’s inclusion on his favorite schools list. He communicates with John Papuchis, UNC’s linebackers coach, on a daily basis and also speaks often with Gene Chizik.

“They just tell me that they want me up there and I’d be an important key to their defense,” Smith said.

During his attendance at Fedora’s Freak Show about a month ago, Papuchis coached Smith for the first time.

“It was good to work with him that night to see how he coaches,” Smith said. “I think he’s a great coach.”

When Smith camped at UNC last summer, he participated in a “regular” one-day camp.

“It was a lot more fun than just a regular camp – there’s not much grinding out and just doing drills,” Smith said. “There’s a lot more competition than a regular camp. At a regular camp they’re just teaching, but there [at the Freak Show] with the competition.”

The exclusive event concluded in the most unique way – with a four-team dodge ball tournament.

“We won,” Smith said with a smile. “We beat the coaches and I knocked out the last person.

“[The dodge ball tournament] was a big surprise, because I thought we were just going to do drills and leave. But they made it pretty fun. That just says that [the coaches] aren’t just all about business – they’re also about having fun and connecting with the players.”

In June, UNC picked up verbal commitments from two outside linebackers. One of them, Tyrone Hopper, has befriended Smith. Thus far, their paths have been in opposite directions – Smith was born in Georgia and later moved to N.C., while Hopper is a North Carolinian living in the Peach State. But along the way, the pair’s paths have crossed during recruiting trips.

“We’ve been talking on and off,” Smith said. “He just tells me I need to come to North Carolina with him.”

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