Smith talks USC visit, sets announcement date

The Gamecocks played host to one of the most versatile and explosive athletes in America over the weekend when they welcomed in New Brunswick (NJ) 4-star prospect Brandon Smith on an official visit. How did Smith enjoy his time in Columbia, and is South Carolina now a real contender for the elite playmaker's services? Read inside to find out.

Brandon Smith, who measures in at a solid 6'2" and 210 pounds, said he had a great trip to South Carolina, and even though the Gamecocks fell to Clemson 23-21, he was impressed with the sense of brotherhood and team unity that he saw in the locker room following the game.

"That was my first time going down there. It went pretty good. I liked it a lot. I got to eat with a couple of the players, and I talked with Coach Spurrier and the coaches. I learned a lot about them," said Smith. "I got to see the players in the locker room after the game. They lost, but they played a heck of a game. It was the seniors' last game, and all the players were telling the seniors how it was an honor to play with them and stuff like that. I got to see the team unity out of the Gamecocks."

Smith had never attended a football game at South Carolina before this weekend, but he got a taste of big time SEC football on Saturday night and was quickly won over by the game day atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"I was on my feet about 95% of the time. The only time I wasn't on my feet was when they called the official timeouts on the field. It was an intense game. The crowd, the fans were supporting their team the whole game. The atmosphere was unbelievable," said Smith. "South Carolina was no comparison to Colorado at all. Colorado's a great place and all, but Michigan and South Carolina are neck and neck with their football environments. Their fans are all about the football. It was loud the whole game. Even when they were down and even when they were turning the ball over and making their mistakes, it was still loud. They were still rooting on their team because they still believed in them."

While in Columbia, Smith got the opportunity to hang out with senior running back Cory Boyd, who also hails from the state of New Jersey, and the two hit it off well.

"I was with Quintin Richardson, the freshman from Columbia, and I hung out with Cory Boyd from Orange, New Jersey. We kept the Jersey love going down there. (Boyd) took me under his wing a little bit while I was down there. He showed me what he does after the games and things like that. I went back to his house, and I chilled with him for a second. Then he took me out."

Smith, who is being recruited by Coach David Reaves for the Gamecocks, also talked with several of the USC coaches while on campus, including a one hour conversation with Head Coach Steve Spurrier.

"I talked with every coach on the staff. They would all pull me to the side, and I had conversations with all of them," said Smith. "I talked to Coach Spurrier for about an hour. He was just telling me about how he wanted me to come play for them and how he could coach me up to be a great player. He said he's going to come see me in Jersey when he goes on his recruiting tour. He talked to me about where I would play and how they just want to get me on the field wherever I can make an impact first."

According to Smith, South Carolina is recruiting him to play on both offense and defense, and he's intrigued by the possibility to be a playmaker on both sides of the ball.

"They're recruiting me at wide receiver, linebacker and safety," said Smith. "That's definitely intriguing. Not too many players can play on both sides of the ball and be productive, but with the offense that Coach Spurrier runs and the defense that Coach Nix runs, I think I could be a very productive player in their offense and their defense."

When asked to rate his trip to USC on a scale from one to ten, Smith gave the visit high marks and said that the Gamecocks made a very good impression on him.

"It was a 9," said Smith. "They definitely helped their chances. It wasn't even about after the game. I was with the players before the game and after the pre-game meal. I got to see what they actually go through before the games and things like that. It definitely helped their chances."

Following his trip to Columbia, Smith is still maintaining an open stance when it comes to naming favorites. However, he does know when he will make a final decision on his college choice as well as what factors will play into that decision.

"I have no favorites. I'm just going to announce at the (Army) All-American Game on January 5th," said Smith. "I'm not worried about academics anymore. Ever since I was being recruited my freshman and sophomore year, I've been worried about - How are the academics? How are the academics? How are the academics? But every school that's recruiting me has great academics. I'm not sure if there actually is, to my knowledge, a Division-I program that doesn't have great academics. I'm looking forward to going to a school that has great academics, and they all have that. The next thing is, I'm going there to play ball. That's the bottom line - I'm going there to play ball. What's the playing time going to look like, and how's the player development? How would I develop as a player speed-wise, strength-wise, physically, mentally? That's the most important thing right now."

In addition to his South Carolina visit over the weekend, Smith has also made official visits to Colorado and Michigan. He plans to take both of his remaining official visits and will decide between Rutgers, Boston College, Michigan State and West Virginia for those slots.

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