RECRUITING: Connor Smith Visit Set

With the Connor Smith sweepstakes down to the final two weeks, Tennessee will get its last chance to make a best impression on the nation's No. 5 rated offensive lineman, who is slated to be in Knoxville for an unofficial visit Thursday.

The 6-foot-5, 295-pound five-star prospect from Cincinnati Colerain High School has been hotly pursued throughout the summer after he announced his intentions to decide on a school before his senior season started. He's had more than 50 offers and his trimmed his list to five — Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The Buckeyes enjoy a strong home field advantage given that Smith's father, Joe, who also happens to be his high school coach, played football at OSU under both Woody Hayes and Earl Bruce.

"I've backed away from Connor and I told him that I want him to make his own decision," Coach Smith told's Chris Pool. "I've been at Colerain a long time and I'm not tooting his horn because he's my kid but Connor's special."

The thing that makes Connor Smith so special is his relentless approach to blocking, which combined with his size, mobility, agility and highly advanced technique make him a rare O-line prospect indeed. He needs to add strength to remain a dominate force on the collegiate level, but given his drive that seems to be a relatively minor obstacle.

"Connor is technically sound," said his father. "He's explosive and his foot skills are as good as any offensive lineman I've seen at this level, including Mike Munoz. I've never seen a kid in high school that finishes the way he does either. When Connor steps on the field, he's an animal."

Smith has refused to name a leader throughout the recruiting process and has attempted to maintain an open mind until his visits were complete.

He could play either guard or tackle on the next level and the Vols value versatility highly among their offensive linemen. So he would probably be trained at both positions if he chooses Tennessee. Regarded as a better run blocker at this point, Smith has the long arms and quick feet needed to develop into a standout weak-side tackle. Although he has a superb skill set, Smith attributes his status to sheer desire.

"I'm just an effort guy," Smith said. "I love to finish my blocks. I play the game with high intensity and I go to the whistle. I guess you could say I'm self-motivated. I work hard in practice and I study my opponent on film. We have great coaches at Colerain and I owe a lot to them."

Great coaching is reflected in the sensational statistics compiled in his junior season. Smith recorded an astounding 191 knockdown blocks in 10 games last season with 120 of those coming in a five-game stretch that helped launch Colerain to a 15-0 record and Division I state title. He finished the 2004 campaign with 310 pancakes, an average of over 20 per game.

Smith carries an impressive 3.2 GPA and took his ACT for the first time on June 11. He runs an outstanding 5.1 time in the 40 and is currently bench pressing 325 pounds.

UT recruiting coordinator Greg Atkins is handling Smith's recruitment, but UT head coach Phillip Fulmer and offensive line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens are very involved in his recruitment. Since Knoxville is just four hours from Cincinnati distance shouldn't be a factor that works against the Vols, however, getting a visit this late in the process could be.

Smith told's Allen Wallace that he was looking forward to visiting the Vols.

"I like Tennessee because they're also pretty close to home, and they're not as far from Cincinnati as some might think," he said. "They've got a great tradition and a great program there. I've yet to visit the state let alone the program."

The Vols have to hope Connor's first visit isn't his last.

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