UNC Impresses Fla. LB Nick Smith

After attending UNC's Junior Day, Nick Smith is liking the Tar Heels.

Although hesitant to name favorite schools, a pair of weekend visits has Nick Smith high on two programs.

“I don’t really have a big school sticking out,” 6-foot-3, 205-pounder said. “But if I had to really pick, I really liked North Carolina and South Carolina.

Along with his Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips teammate Robert Porcher IV, Smith attended UNC’s junior day on Saturday then visited South Carolina on Sunday.

“When I went up [to UNC], I wasn’t expecting it to be so impressive. Chapel Hill, I didn’t know it was such a college town and that the atmosphere was so great. I was really impressed. It was more than I thought it was going to be.

“South Carolina, it was kind of surprising. When I went up there, I thought we were just going to go through the weight room, the facilities, [and] the locker room. But they had shown us around the campus, the dorms – and it was all good.”

Before the weekend, Smith's travels included Auburn, Central Florida, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Michigan State. He’s scheduled to visit Maryland on April 15 and Florida this summer. Also this summer, he plans to return to UNC, likely for Fedora’s Freak Show.

UNC’s Junior Day on Saturday began with a morning scrimmage.

“I was impressed with their tempo,” Smith said. “It was really fast tempo. I didn’t know that they played that fast.

“Their defense came out very physical; especially their DBs and linebackers, they were filling gaps, coming up, [and] making plays. I was very impressed with that.”

Afterwards, the junior day’s attendees convened in the Blue Zone for lunch.

“Actually, it was pretty fun,” Smith said. “They had a lot of games set out – Madden and all that. They had some jerseys to try on. 

“They took us around the campus. They let us see the accolades that they had with some of the NFL players. They showed us around, pretty much, the whole school and campus.”

Smith was one of the select few who were escorted to Larry Fedora’s office for a meeting with UNC’s head man.

“He was telling me that they really liked me,” Smith said. “They liked my film, my versatility, how quick I am, how fast I am, and how I get it down not just on the field but off the field in the classroom.”

Additionally, Smith had a film session with Gene Chizik, UNC’s defensive coordinator.

“He just wanted to know how much of football I understood,” Smith said.

“They see me playing as an outside linebacker – as a speed rusher coming off the edge and also dropping back into coverage. I like that. I think it will fit me and not only benefit me but everybody else on the field.”

By the time he leaves Dr. Phillips, Smith will have extensive experience in the aforementioned phases. The past couple of seasons, he has primarily played defensive end. Bug, his coaches plan to move him to linebacker this coming season and will even use him as a safety on occasions. 

Smith concluded his junior season with 91 tackles, including 24 for a loss and six sacks.


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