Smith, a 6-foot, 229-pound linebacker from Scotland County, selected UNC over fellow finalists Duke, Georgia Tech, and Michigan.
In anticipation of a preseason decision, Smith visited both Duke and UNC within the past couple of weeks.
Smith missed his entire sophomore season while nursing a knee injury. Fully healthy, Smith led Scotland County in tackles with 156 – including 22 for a loss – in 2014. He also recorded 4.0 sacks, five QB hurries, and an interception that season.
“The biggest thing with Jonathan is he’s a great player now, but he has such a huge upside,” Scotland County head coach Richard Bailey said. “He’s an intense guy. He’s a workaholic. He lives in the weight room – he loves it. But he’s also a film junkie. He’s a very smart football player… When you watch his film, he looks like the fastest guy on the defense, because he plays fast and he is instinctive. And he’s physical…
“There are so many kids that have the talent, but don’t even get near maximizing the potential. Jonathan is the type that’s going to blow the roof off of his potential…
“He’s not a hugely vocal guy, but he is a ‘look at how I’m working, if you want to be good you need to come with me’ type guy.”
Smith is UNC’s 17th verbal commitment of the 2016 class. He’s also the third linebacker to pledge to the Tar Heels, but as the lone true middle linebacker he complements the other two - Tyrone Hopper and Dominique Ross – very well.
He is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 1 inside linebacker in North Carolina and No. 28 at the position nationally.