After completing his official visits, Donovan Smith, a four-star offensive tackle from Owings Mills, Maryland, has chopped his list down to three schools.
"I cut it down to the final three," he said. "Penn State, NC State and UCLA."
The 6-foot-7, 280-pound blocking machine knocked off Maryland, Michigan State and Syracuse.
The coaching situation at Maryland was a big concern, he said. "That played a big part. That is 90% of it."
Michigan State recruited him for nearly a year as a defensive lineman yet Smith has chosen to play on the other side of the ball at the next level.
"They gave me a scholarship to play defense and I looked at them from the defensive standpoint, and I just said I want to play offense. And they said they needed offense but I said I had been looking at them for 10 months at defense and now I would have to build that relationship in three weeks what I built for 10 months."
Smith had planned on taking an official visit to Syracuse but the weather held him back from even visiting the Orange.
"I didn't go to Syracuse because they had four feet of snow!"
As for his final three, Smith stated in an interview with Scout.com on December 7 that Penn State is his front-runner. What Smith finds appealing about the Nittany Lions goes beyond their elite football program and their legendary coach.
"The coaching situation there doesn't bother me regardless if he (Coach Joe Paterno) leaves or not. It is such a high-powered program I don't think they will change that much. Plus, I am not there 100% for football - I am also there for academics. A Penn State degree, if I do go there, and a UCLA degree level ought to be right there with ivy league schools. That is how I look at it."
North Carolina State, who is also in the hunt for his services, is a program on the rise according to Smith. He also admires head coach Tom O'Brien.
"They are up and coming. Coach O'Brien has turned things around during his time there. Taking them to a bowl game and all that adds up, and just the academics there as well. It's very laid back and I could fit in there. I felt like I was at home."
On the west coast, UCLA's campus and academics are extremely attractive to Smith. During his official visit to the Bruins (12/5) he seems to have formed a bond with incoming quarterback Brett Hundley.
"We jelled together perfectly in just the two days I was out there. He is someone I would see myself around. He is positive on everything he is doing. If I were to go there for four or five years, he as the quarterback and I as the tackle would be a match made in heaven."
Smith is very impressed with UCLA but distance from home could become a roadblock in him choosing the Bruins. Smith and his twin sister Ebony are extremely close and would like to stick together. When asked if Ebony was looking at schools in California he replied "She is looking at it but I haven't asked her too much about it. I let her try to focus on basketball right now but she did say it was a beautiful campus."
Smith is looking forward to making his final decision at the Army All-American Bowl January 8.
"I am a little nervous and happy at the same time because it has been a long process and you know I guess it's also like letting a lot of weight off my shoulders."
Stay on Scout.com for more updates on Donovan Smith's recruiting process.
Smith Narrows Down List to Three
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