CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Working towards establishing a finalist list, four-star wide receiver OrTre Smith took his first visit to North Carolina earlier this month.
“They’ve always showed me love,” Smith said. “And I liked it there. It was nice. I liked the atmosphere. And I liked just being there, because there’s so much history there.”
By the end of the spring, Smith, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound from Mt. Pleasant (S.C.) Wando, will release his finalist list. That list will consist of five or six schools. No school is a shoo-in to make the cut, he says.
Midway through the football season, Smith plans to make a verbal commitment. Official visits will help render that decision.
“It’s just going to be how I feel,” Smith said.
Smith’s mother played volleyball at Clemson and is an avid Tigers fan. Smith says that connection won’t impact his recruitment.
“It doesn’t affect me at all,” Smith said. “She doesn’t care [where I go]; she’s going to support me either way. That’s my ride or die. That’s my mom.”
That unconditional support extends to South Carolina, Clemson’s in-state rival.
“She doesn’t care,” Smith laughed. “I think she could get used to garnet and black.”
Another, lesser-mentioned connection is Bailey Hart. As Wando’s quarterback, Hart threw passes to Smith the past couple of seasons. Hart will join South Carolina as a preferred walk-on this summer.
With about a month until he releases a finalists list, Smith is continuing with his visits. In particular, he’s looking forward to inaugural trips to Oklahoma and Ole Miss. But, he also plans to return to Clemson, Georgia, UNC, and Wake Forest.
Besides UNC, Smith has visited Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina, and Wake Forest since the end of the football season.
Smith visited UNC on April Fools’ Day, a day before its final junior day. Avoiding the junior day crowd allowed for a more intimate experience.
“It was my first time ever there, so we toured everything – the dorms, where the players eat at,” Smith said. “We went to talk to a professor about zoology, because I’m interested in animals. And I sat in a [wide receivers] meeting with Coach [Gunter] Brewer.”
Speaking of Brewer, that’s who Smith spent the most time with, even though he’s located within Tray Scott’s recruiting territory.
“[Brewer] was just giving me tips,” Smith said.
UNC already has three wide receivers committed in this class: J.T. Cauthen, Ryan Jones, and Tyler Smith. OrTre Smith said that won’t impact his feelings towards the Tar Heels. Moreover, Brewer has told Smith that UNC will continue to recruit him hard and make room within the class if he chooses to pledge.
“They said I’m the outside receiver – the jump ball type of guy,” Smith said.
As a junior, Smith caught 84 passes for 1,364 yards and 18 touchdowns – good enough for a 16-yard average.
The night of his UNC visit, Smith remained in Chapel Hill. Before departing, he caught that morning’s scrimmage.
“It was competitive,” Smith said. “[Ryan] Switzer, he got rocked, so they actually get after it.”