Cincinnati Pledge to Visit UNC

Within the past month, North Carolina has made two evaluation trips to Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio. In addition to checking out five-star linebacker Jordan Hicks, the UNC staff also visited the school to get the low down on Alex Smith, a four-star Cincinnati pledge.

"They've been seriously talking to me, they've written me and my mom," Smith said of the Tar Heel coaches. "They told me if I were to ever de-commit from UC that they would have a spot for me and they want me on their team. They said definitely have an offer from them."

Smith, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound tight end, verbally committed to Cincinnati in February over scholarship offers from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, NC State, and West Virginia. Since then, he has added offers from Florida, Kansas, Miami, Minnesota, and South Carolina.

"I built a real strong relationship early [with Cincinnati's staff], UC was my first offer, the Big East is wide open, and to be honest I haven't taken any visits to other schools," Smith said. "Plus, it will be really big for my mom to see me play, too. It's been my mom and I my whole life and we have a strong bond.

"If you were a stay-home local guy being a top prospect, you want to get your name into a school early so you can bring a lot of guys with you. I've found that to be true, because ever since I've committed, we've had about eight other kids commit on top of me."

Smith says his verbal commitment is firm, but he will continue to listen to other schools' recruiting pitches.

"I'm not going to lie, I was upset with the whole tight ends coach situation at UC," Smith said. "If things ever change with Coach Kelly – like if he were to go to a different school – North Carolina would completely be one of my top choices for me, without a doubt."

Regardless, Smith will visit UNC over the summer.

"My mom is going to be in North Carolina for business early this summer, so I'm going to join her," Smith said. "Duke, NC State, and [UNC] are 30 minutes away from each other, so I'm going to stop by [each school]."

Smith believes UNC is recruiting him as an H-back, but he has been told he could end up playing either tight end position within the Tar Heels' offense.

"They expect me to make a pretty early impact at either," Smith said. "They had a tight end go in the second round of the [NFL] draft, so they were telling me how it's a good place for tight ends."

During his sophomore season – his first starting on varsity – Smith lined up at receiver in a four-wide receiver spread offense that didn't utilize a tight end. The Lakota West coaching staff altered the offense to better suit Smith's skill set.

"I just thought to myself ‘I'm a tight end – I love hitting too much to be a wide receiver,'" Smith said. "They changed the offense so that I can split out from the ‘Y' [tight end] and go down in a stance."

Smith responded by leading the team in receiving – 27 catches for 375 yards and four touchdowns.

"We were a big run school, but my role in the offense was to be the go-to guy," Smith said.

Smith says that he and Hicks, who also holds a UNC scholarship offer, don't talk about recruiting.

"I don't think anyone knows where [Hicks is] going," Smith said.

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