Junior days and unofficial visits continue to become increasingly more important and more popular in college football recruiting.
While Tennessee is a recognizable program in the South, getting prospects to see what coach Butch Jones and his staff have to offer prospect is vital, especially in the tough recruiting territory of the Southeastern Conference.
Jordan Smith is a junior defensive end with numerous scholarship offers from big-time programs, including Tennessee. He took part in a major, invite-only event in Knoxville on Saturday.
“It was nice,” Smith said. “I liked it a lot. It was just a great environment, a great place to be. I like the indoor facilities and a lot of new stuff that they have going on. I like the coaching staff.
“The indoor facility was really nice. I’ve never seen an indoor like that, and I like that. The stadium was nice, too.”
Smith’s hometown is just east of Atlanta and less than 4 hours from Knoxville. So, he’s within an earshot of Big Orange Country.
“I heard a lot about Tennessee, how their program is building up and how they have better recruiting classes throughout the years,” the Lithonia (Ga.) High School standout said.
While the junior spent time with much of the staff last weekend, Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling is the lead recruiter on Smith. The third-year assistant told Smith he is impressed by the height, speed combination and potential to carry more weight.
“(Stripling)’s a great guy,” Smith said of the Vols assistant. “He really cares about the whole recruiting process, and he’s a really good guy.”
Smith checks in at 6-feet-5 1/2, 220 pounds with a goal to get up around 250 before training camp in college.
The Scout three-star prospect doesn’t expect to come with a verbal declaration in the near future and has no favorites.
“Probably no time soon. I’m just going to let my recruiting process ride out,” he said.
It’s more of a 40-year decision, not a 4-year decision. Smith understands that and he plans to take that heavy into consideration when deciding on a school, saying he’s going to “the place that’s going to put me in a better position for life after football.”
The time spent on Rocky Top on Saturday helped Tennessee.
“Yeah, there’s probably more interest in them now because I’ve seen the campus and talked to the coaches,” Smith said.
The edge rusher hasn’t ruled out a return trip for Tennessee’s Orange & White game at Neyland Stadium on April 25. Whether he makes it that day or not, he intends to see the Big Orange battle a foe this fall.
“I probably will visit again, come up for a game or something,” he said.