Motivation On The Wall For Smith

Garrison Smith has emerged as one of the top defensive line prospects in the country, and he has received plenty of scholarship offers in the process. He might have a list of his top schools, but the names included on that list remain a mystery to those who are not privy to his inner sanctum.

Fans wanting to know which 10 schools are at the top of the list for Garrison Smith should try to procure an invitation to his den.

There, at his home in Atlanta, the four-star prospect from the class of 2010 has 10 framed scholarship offers from among the 22 he has received to this point. One of them is from Ohio State, but the identities of the other nine remain a closely guarded secret as Smith continues to show respect for each school currently recruiting him.

"We don't want to make anybody mad," Smith told "I'm still evaluating all the schools. Me and my family are taking the time to see every school that's offered. I'm just taking it day by day and let God help me make the right decision. It's hard, but at the same time it's real humbling and makes me real thankful that I have opportunities to play."

It's not a big surprise that the 6-3½, 259-pound Smith is receiving plenty of interest from colleges. As a junior, he recorded 108 tackles – 27 for loss – and 14 sacks to go along with seven forced fumbles.

"I just like to get after the ball," he said. "I never give up. I'm always trying to make a play. I'm a high-energy, high-intensity player. My motor is always going, trying to make plays for the team."

Smith is ranked as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the country by, but he could play either tackle or end in college. His head coach, Kenneth Barrow, said most colleges are primarily looking at him as an end.

In addition, Smith also serves as an offensive tackle, tight end and fullback but will see action this season as an H back.

As he tries to narrow his list, Smith said he will look at a few factors: academics, the overall program, the coaching staff and the spiritual basis of the school. Regarding the last point, Smith said the Buckeyes have impressed him with their activities in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Former OSU lineman Joel Penton began a religious pep rally in 2006 dubbed "The Main Event," and the fact that it has become an annual event in Columbus has caught Smith's eye.

"I really liked when the coach told me about how high their FCA leadership is," he said. "That stood out the most to me about how important it was. He was telling me how they have a big assembly every two years and players tell their story, giving glory to God and all that good stuff. I'd be really excited about all that."

One of the primary factors Smith said he will use to pick a school is that institution's spirituality.

"That's very important to him," Barrow said. "Everything he talks about, he always relates it to different Bible verses and things like that. That's him. That tells you a lot about a kid and that sums the kid up. Any time the kid has God in his life, that's a special kid."

According to Barrow, only two schools have actively shopped their religious activities to Smith as they have recruited him: OSU and Georgia.

Simply landing an offer from the Buckeyes was an exciting experience, Smith said. OSU has successfully recruited the Peach State in recent years, landing the likes of Cameron Heyward and Keith Wells.

"Hearing their Buckeye name, it just added that much more," he said. "It's just another blessing. I'm just real thankful that colleges want to give me the opportunity to play for them, so I get excited."

However, Smith will not be making a decision anytime soon. For now, he said he plans to take everything in stride and enjoy each new scholarship offer he receives. Barrow said his star player will likely have a list of his top five schools narrowed down by the time his senior season starts.

When he does, the coach said he has an idea of one school that will make the cut.

"He's genuinely interested in Ohio State," Barrow said. "When he got the word that they were interested in him, he was like, ‘Wow, Ohio State' and he just lit up. He's a humble kid and he was glad that they had interest in him. I'm not sure, but I think Ohio State's going to be in that top five."

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