Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina

UNC on Top for LB Nick Smith

The Florida linebacker attended Fedora's Freak Show on Saturday.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Nick Smith returned to North Carolina on Saturday for Fedora’s Freak Show. When he left campus, he had a leader.

“North Carolina is on top right now,” Smith said. “It’s comfortable. Now that I’ve been around here more and I’m more familiar with it, more familiar with the coaching staff.”

Nipping at UNC’s heels are Louisville, Maryland, Nebraska, NC State, and Rutgers, Smith said. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound linebacker from Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips was scheduled to visit NC State the day after the Freak Show.

Smith could make a verbal commitment by the end of the summer. If he’s not ready at that time, he’ll carry his recruitment into the season and take some official visits before producing a decision.

Familiarity was exactly what Smith hoped to obtain from Saturday’s stay. When he first visited Chapel Hill in April, it was primarily an introduction to the football program. Saturday was more about appraising the dorms and the business department, and gaining a better feel for the environment.

“I was able to familiarize myself with who would be my coach, Coach JP [John Papuchis],” Smith said. “I like how he coaches. He’s a pretty up-tempo guy.”

During the Freak Show, Smith was expectedly coached by Papuchis, UNC’s linebackers coach.

“He gets to the point,” Smith said. “If he tells you what to do, he trusts you to get the job done. He’s going to put you out there and he’s going to give you the tools to get it done. It’s up to you to follow what he says and get the job done.”

Generally speaking, Smith was impressed by the Freak Show experience.

“I liked how they did it,” Smith said. “You come in, play in the players’ lounge and relax for a little bit. They show you about the history about North Carolina. 

“I was able to interact with everybody that’s here. The players that are here, they’ll teach you some new things that they learned from their coaches. It’s more of a teaching than just a camp. You put all those things together that they taught you in the individual segment and use it in one-on-ones and show what you can do.”

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



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