Smith to Land in Chapel Hill

West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West tight end Alex Smith announced Tuesday morning his decision to attend North Carolina. Inside Carolina was on hand and has more from Smith's announcement.

WEST CHESTER, Ohio – For Alex Smith, the road to Chapel Hill took a detour through Cincinnati.

The West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West tight end announced Tuesday morning in a teleconference his decision to attend North Carolina having previously committed to Cincinnati last February.

"After being through this long, delayed-out recruiting process, I think the best thing for me – and my mom agrees – that it is going to be the University of North Carolina," Smith said with his mother Darlene Smith and Lakota West head coach Larry Cox by his side..

"I know this is right for me. I'm kind of glad I am done with the recruiting process but this is a very, very solid decision. This is where I want to be at and the program I want to be in."

Smith and Lakota West teammate Kevin Schloemer committed to Cincinnati after a basketball game against Louisville last winter but Smith second-guessed his decision after the verbal.

"It kind of came down to how they run the spread offense," Smith said of Cincinnati. "I want good things for them still. It just wasn't completely right for me and with the other schools looking at me I wanted to be sure it was right."

The likelihood of head coach Brian Kelly leaving Cincinnati as early as at the end of this season – potentially to Notre Dame, if the rumor mill is correct – was another reason Smith became lukewarm on the Bearcats, according to his mother.

"I think that was a big thing with Alex, too. There was always a question if (Kelly) was going to be there," she said. "That was always on the forefront of his mind. So, he's made a great decision.

"It's so wonderful."

Her son thinks so, too.

"Chapel Hill is a great area. It is an up-and-coming program and the coaching staff is terrific," he said.

Smith was recruited by tight ends coach and former four-year letterwinner at UNC Allen Mogridge and he is equally excited about playing under former NFL head coach Butch Davis.

"(Mogridge and I) developed a really good bond. He's got the same attitude with you all the time and Coach Davis is a great guy," he said. "He sat down with me and my mom and we had these long talks and it didn't even have to be about football. So, that really clicked.

"I think he is there to win championships, saying that is where the program is going. I want to win and do (well) at whatever school I am at and I really think at North Carolina I can do that."

And Smith is enthusiastic about attending one of the top academic institutions in the country to possibly study business or journalism.

"You have to look at academics, too, and academically everything is there," he said.

Smith knew he was ready to commit to UNC after his visit on Nov. 14 for the Tar Heels' 33-24 win over Miami.

"When they ran out of the tunnel and with the atmosphere, you just have that feeling where all of a sudden everything just clicks," he said. "After being on all these visits and kind of being unsure – that was the (surest) moment I had. It felt like home and where I can see myself for years to come."

Said Cox, "I think it is the right decision for him. He called me on his visit and he said that he really felt like he could fit there and walk the campus and really be a part of something. I could feel the confidence in his voice and you get to a point that you know that the fit is right and I tell the kids that you always know it when you get to that point.

"I couldn't be happier for him. I know he is going to a great school and a great program."

For Cox, Smith is one of the best players he has ever coached.

"In my 23 years coaching football, he is the best tight end I have ever been around. It is not even close. I think the sky is the limit for him," he said.

Ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the state for the 2010 class by Ohio High magazine, Smith had 23 catches for 411 yards and four touchdowns in eight games for the Firebirds this fall, earning first team All-Greater Miami Conference honors and Southwest All-District Honorable Mention recognition.

Lakota West (9-2) finished the season in the Division I, Region 4 Quarterfinals losing to Cincinnati Anderson 24-21 last month.

With his high school football career in the books, Smith is focused on his senior basketball season now that he has made his college decision.

"I just think this is right for me and it really clicked on my last visit," he said. "It is a lot of pressure off me and off my family now that we have this decision made. I think they are all real happy for me."

There is no question about that.

"I am so proud of you," the elder Smith said to her son after the teleconference.


Alex Smith with his mother, Darlene


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