Tom Smith update

One prospect who attended Tennessee's July 20-22 football camp wasn't looking to wow the Vol coaches. He'd already accomplished that mission.

Tom Smith, a 6-0, 195-pound running back from Apopka, Fla., already had impressed UT coaches enough to earn a scholarship offer. And they already had impressed him enough to earn a commitment.

Still, Smith decided to attend the recent Big Orange camp - as an observer, not a competitor.

"It was just a regular visit," he said by phone from Apopka. "I stuck around for three days but didn't participate in the camp."

As noted previously, he didn't need to showcase his talents. Vol coaches already knew all they needed to know about him, so he spent his time getting better acquainted with them. One guy he feels he knows pretty well is first-year head coach Derek Dooley.

"He's a really smart man," Smith said, "and he can be trusted."

Smith also has considerable respect for the Vol aide who recruited him, quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw, a Punta Gorda (Fla.) native.

"Coach Hinshaw is a really awesome man," Smith said. "It's going to be fun just being around him. When he talked to me he kept it real. He never tried to pressure me into doing something I didn't want to do."

In addition to his bond with Dooley and Hinshaw, Smith is attracted to Tennessee because of Dooley's emphasis on a strong running game.

"He wants to pound the ball and get it on," Smith said. "He's trying to make his backs tougher. He wants to run it more than he passes."

Naturally, that philosophy appeals to Tom Smith, who loves playing the running back position.

"I played it all my life," he said. "Teams depend a lot on the quarterback and the running back, so I like that role."

Describing himself as "a speed back/power back," Smith said he has been compared to Sammie Smith, a former FSU standout who was a first-round NFL Draft pick in 1989.

"We have the same running style," Tom Smith said. "We're big backs with speed."

Although the future Vol said he has been "really busy with high school football" this summer, he has found time to hold a part-time job.

"I work in a barber shop ... just cleaning up," he said.

Smith spurned 23 other schools when he publicly committed to Tennessee. He's thrilled to have the recruiting process out of the way.

"It feels great, now that I can focus on my team," he said. "I'm focusing on getting my teammates to have a big year, instead of focusing on all of the colleges on my back."

Smith says he picked Tennessee because "It felt like home," adding that his commitment will not waver, even though a few rival recruiters are still trying to change his mind.

"Schools are going to do that," he said, "but I haven't been talking to them. They'll call my dad but he tells them I'm committed to Tennessee and I'm not interested."


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