SPARTANBURG, S.C. --- Jonathan Smith can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In less than a month, the linebacker will enroll at North Carolina.
“I’m ready to get out of here and get up there and get the next four years of my life started,” Smith said.
Smith, a 6-foot, 228-pounder from Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland County, will report on Jan. 8 – in plenty of time for the spring semester, which means he’ll participate in spring practice.
“The coaches tell me that if I do what I need to do, I should see the field next season,” Smith said.
Recruiting wise, Smith has crossed everything off the to-do list. The final entry on that list was his in-home visit with Larry Fedora, which took place last week.
“He was just excited to get me up there and excited to get me working out with the guys,” Smith said. “He just wants me to get into the swing of things.”
About a month before the in-home, Smith took his one and only official visit and returned to Chapel Hill. Much of his itinerary surrounded UNC’s home finale against Miami.
“I just saw the same thing I saw every other time,” Smith said. “It feels great to be up there, I have a great relationship with everybody, and it feels like family.”
This week, Smith will be distracted from counting down the days to his enrollment by the Shrine Bowl.
While most Shrine Bowlers are adjusting to a scheme different from the one they’ve played the past four years, the Shrine Bowl’s mandated '50' defense is very similar to the 3-4 that Scotland County employs. As such, Smith is manning his usual inside linebacker position.
“Pretty much no difference at all,” Smith said. “It’s just different terminology and play calls. I’m just adjusting to getting the lingo and stuff like that. You have new players, so you don’t know what everybody can do. Everybody’s athletic, so if you just do your job you’ll be alright.”
If he does the same job in the Shrine Bowl as he did for Scotland County, expect Smith to pile up the tackles on Saturday. This past season, he led the team with 120 tackles (including 18 for a loss), which was nearly double the second leading tackler.