"Coach DeAndre Smith, he offered me," Smith Jr. recalled. "I had called Coach (Tim) Lester to introduce myself and he told me that he recruits the Chicago area but not my area in Chicago. So he put my recruiting coach (DeAndre Smith) on the phone and he said they were extremely interested in me. He told me they were going to go ahead and put that offer down on the table.
"I was extremely shocked because I wasn't expecting an offer to come out. I was happy that they were showing me interest because my idol went to that school. Donovan McNabb, and he actually went to my high school as well."
Being able to follow McNabb from high school to the college level would be a thrill for Smith Jr. But that's not the only reason he's interested in Syracuse.
"It would mean a lot," Smith Jr. admitted. "But going through the recruiting process I just have to find what's the best fit for me. I'm really interested in Syracuse because I've done some research on them and found out that they have a really good engineering department. That's really important to me."
During the discussion between Smith Jr. and Coach Smith, they discussed a potential visit in the future, though a date has not been set. They also found another interest connection the coach and his parents.
"We've talked about a visit," the 3-star prospect said. "I have to sit down and talk to my parents about when a time that works for us. We actually found out that Coach DeAndre Smith and my parents actually went to the same college, Missouri State University. Back then it was called Southwest Missouri State."
Still early in the process, Smith Jr. does not have any favorites as of yet. But he is looking to make a decision before the 2013 season starts.
"I'm still wide open right now," the 6-foot-2 defensive tackle claimed. "Right now I'm 95% sure I'll be making my decision before my senior season."