Tennessee's recruiting pitch to Trey Smith was simple: the best players in the Volunteer State need to attend the flagship in-state SEC school.
That was the presentation for Smith, a Scout four-star offensive tackle from Jackson, and a host of other big name talent on campus Saturday for a star-studded junior day event headlined by Tennessee talent. The notion of staying home struck a chord with the Vols prospect.
"I thought it went well," Smith told InsideTennessee. "Tennessee's whole staff, their whole recruiting spiel (Saturday) was actually really cool. In the state of Tennessee, Tennessee players need to be great at Tennessee. Louisiana players go to LSU. Georgia players play go to Georgia."
The No. 1-ranked tackle in Tennessee's 2017 class got to spend time with the Vols' offensive line group during the visit as well to get a feel for the camaraderie enjoyed by the team.
"I was able to actually hang out with the players a lot more," Smith said. "I thought everything was awesome. The offensive line group, the whole team, I got to hang out with all those guys."
Smith, a Scout 100 player and the No. 2-rated offensive tackle in the South Region, also got an opportunity to sit down with offensive line coach Don Mahoney for a one-on-one meeting. The two watched tape of Smith and discussed how his burly 6-foot-5, 287-pound frame fits along the Vols' offensive line.
"I talked with coach Mahoney a little bit," Smith told IT. "We were able to break down my film to review how I fit in the system. I was able to actually watch some plays."
Coaches like Mahoney salivate over Smith's flexibility in the trenches and pure athleticism off the snap. The rising University School of Jackson senior has racked up dozens of offers from schools like Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, among others, for his quick hands and nimble speed. Smith recorded 138 pancake blocks in 13 games last season.
"The reoccuring theme they always tell me is just my hand placement is excellent," Smith said. "I use my hands pretty well. They say I'm good for work. Freakish athleticism is what I pride myself in. They were asking me how I thought I was doing and I was like, I feel like I'm getting faster. I'm the fastest lineman at my school. I like to stay with the running backs ... Really it's my freakish athletcisim, my hands, my feet and my flexibility. Flexibility is a major key for my position."
Alabama will host Smith on Thursday, and he has tentative visits to Notre Dame and Ohio State scheduled in the spring. Those schools join Tennessee in courting the No. 6-ranked overall 2017 offensive tackle, who will be paying close attention to the college football landscape as he continues to weigh his options at the next level.
"I want to see what team really does well this season, how a team plays," Smith told IT. "Schools that I'm very familiar with, I'm going to watch how they play and see if they do well. I don't want to go into a bad situation. I want to go somewhere where I can possibly win a championship ... I think that's going to be a huge factor in (my decision)."
The Vols will have an opportunity to showcase why they deserve Smith's talents through on-field production in 2016 — a pitch Butch Jones fervently made to his 2017 prospect. Tennessee has gone 13-5 in its last 18 games, with those five defeats coming by a total of 25 points.
"They are the most optmistic group of people/fan base I've ever met in my life," Smith said with a chuckle. "I would take it back all the way to (former coaches) Lane Kiffin and (Derek) Dooley. They were always saying 'We're going to be better, We're going to win a national championship.' I always thought those expectations were way too high back then, but just sitting here seeing how the season went last year and coach Jones saying they're 25 points away form winning those last couple of games, I think if they really get it together, they can go in and make it to the SEC Championship and possibly win a national championship."