Learning the Orange & White way

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Being a hometown recruit and long-time commit, there's not a lot about visiting Tennessee that's new these days for Josh Smith.

Nevertheless, the wide receiver from Christian Academy of Knoxville didn't waste an opportunity to sit down with his future coaches and continue building bonds with current Volunteers with an official visit over the weekend.

"It wasn't really that much different but I got to see a lot more football-wise," Smith told InsideTennessee. "I can't wait to experience that more. I got to spend more time with the current players and the commits and recruits. Just getting to know everyone was awesome. I got to meet some elite-level recruits and that was fun. It was just a good atmosphere."

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder added scholarship offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati and Middle Tennessee but didn't waver on his pledge to the Vols once he knew he was wanted by the new coaching staff.

Now, he's gearing up to get to work with future hands unit mates like Cody Blanc, Drae Bowles, Jacob Carter, Jason Croom, Vincent Dallas and Paul Harris.

"It was good," Smith said of the Wide Receiver U chemistry. "I think we all connected well. We pretty much know each other really well now. I got to spend time with Ryan and that was fun."

Tennessee rising junior quarterback Justin Worley played host to Smith.

The newest member of coach Butch Jones' staff is wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, who stayed on and honored a promise to players at Wisconsin by coaching them through the Rose Bowl. Azzanni wasted no time getting to work in Knoxville after flying out of Pasadena.

"I like (Azzanni) a lot," Smith said. "I like him very, very much. Just the fact that I got to spend more time with him over the visit was awesome. That hit the spot on my commitment. I feel more comfortable about everything because you have doubts when you commit to different coaching staffs and you wonder if things are going to change. That turned my head around.

"I'm just ready to come and show out and prove everyone wrong."

Josh Smith

"I'm excited to play for him. He's coached a lot of good receivers. I'm just excited to be coached by him."

During his official, Smith did not attend the men's basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena, nor did he break down film with staff members. He was told how he'd fit into coordinator Mike Bajakian's offense and what they have in store for the receiver.

"I like it," Smith said of the new Spread attack. "It's not really that much different from my high school. Four wide receivers is pretty much what we ran all the time at CAK. I think that's an advantage that I have.

"Everyone is a great player now. It's competing for a job. It's not just walking in and having that starting spot anymore. I love competing so that's probably what I'm looking forward to the most. So, I'm excited."

Smith is likely to enroll in June, rooming with former CAK teammate Brett Kendrick, another offensive lineman in Austin Sanders and a fourth.

A teenager's body can go any number of directions in a matter of five months' time. Smith says he is going to continue working so that he shows up on The Hill ready to work.

"I actually just got done working out, so I don't think I'm taking the soft road. I know what I'm getting into, and I know what the task is ahead of me. I'm not going to let this just fly right across me. I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity that I have. I'm going to prove all the people wrong and see what I can do."

During his junior season, Smith piled up 96 catches for 1,911 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was slowed by a fractured clavicle in his senior campaign but rebounded to help the Warriors bring home their second straight TSSAA Class 3A state championship.

The FOX Sports NEXT rating of two stars is an example of what's driving Smith. He knows ratings mean nothing in terms of a scholarship, but it is still fuel to continue grinding.

"I see myself as a hard-working player," he said. "So, I feel like the hard work paid off. Everyone has criticized, but coaches have evaluated me and they have more experience than a lot of people. So, I don't really pay attention to all that stuff. I know what I'm capable of. I'm just ready to come and show out and prove everyone wrong. But, I have a lot of good fans too. I'm just excited to get there to be honest."

Smith said he'd possibly major in Business or Sports Management but is open to coaching college football.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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