Smith likes Vols' direction

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A decision could be coming in the near future from Scout three-star outside linebacker Josh Smith.

The Oakland (Tenn.) High School standout says he's getting "serious" about his recruitment and plans to visit several schools before making a decision sometime before the start of his senior season.

"I'm just trying to enjoy this and take it all in. I just want to stay level-headed and not let everything else get to me," Smith told InsideTennessee. "I'm ready to work. This only happens one time in your lifetime, so I have to enjoy it."

Smith plans to visit Tennessee, Purdue, Auburn and Ole Miss in the coming weeks.

"I'm really trying to narrow everything down," Smith said. "I want to make my decision sooner rather than later."

Smith said Alabama and Vanderbilt are his two leaders at the moment, but he also says the Vols are working their into the mix.

While the lanky Smith says he's high on the Commodores and Crimson Tide because of their 3-4 defensive schemes, he also sees plenty of positives surrounding Tennessee.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder likes the changes he's seen at Tennessee under soon-to-be second-year head coach Butch Jones.

"They're on the up-rise, man. They're going to shock some people," Smith told IT. "There's a lot of change going on over there."

To some, change is bad.

To Smith, change is very, very good.

"I like the idea of getting in while the program is changing. I'm a leader and leaders want to make changes for the better," Smith said. "I feel like I could help bring Tennessee back and that's exciting."

Smith also likes Tennessee's youthful roster and is optimistic he could fight for a starting spot right away should he play his college ball on Rocky Top.

"Their defensive style, I like it a lot. If you work hard you'll play," Smith said. "I may be a better fit for a 3-4, but I know I could come in and work for a spot. If not my first year, I'm confident those coaches could work with me and get me playing fast."

With all that said, the nation's No. 27 outside linebacker prospect said communication with Tennessee has been "up and down" at best.

"Sometimes I go a long time without hearing a lot from them," Smith said.

When the Vols do call, it's mostly linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen. Smith called his relationship with Thigpen "progressing."

"When he talk, it's always good," Smith said. "He's a really good guy and he's like one of the best recruiters in the country. He's the kind of guy you'd want to play for."


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