Blake Smith, 6-3, 245, 4.7, Tulsa (Okla.) Union, has decided to trip to UCLA on January 9th despite the threat of losing his scholarship to Colorado State if he took any other trips after committing to the Rams ten days ago.
The Oklahoma Defensive Player of the Year finished the season with 86 tackles, 10 sacks and one interception despite missing three games. He helped lead Union to a perfect 14-0 record, a state championship and a No.4 rating in Student Sports National Top 50.
The way Smith started responding to the question of visiting UCLA seemed more dependent on what the CSU coaches would say when he asked about taking another trip. "I have been thinking about taking another trip. We (Smith and his parents) were talking about whether I can still do it. We have to call the Colorado State coaches and see what they say, because I already committed to Colorado State. I really think I would regret not taking another visit, and we are going to talk to them (CSU coaches) and see what they thought about it."
But as the conversation with BRO continued it became apparent that Smith was set on taking the trip regardless of what the CSU coaches would say. "My mom is going to call them tomorrow. They might not like it, but I'm going to tell them, ‘I'm sorry, but I think I need to see somewhere else. I'm still committed to you guys, but I still need to see somewhere else just to compare it.' I'm not going to go with my parents. I am going to just go by myself."
Once again head coach Karl Dorrell's decision to retain defensive line coach Don Johnson has kept a recruit interested in UCLA. "At the time I committed, we weren't really sure if coach Johnson would be keeping his job. The day he knew that he would be retained he called me. He wasn't sure he would keep his job. He called and said the scholarship is still there. He said he respected the school's (CSU) commitment, but he said that UCLA was the first to recruit me and to offer me. UCLA has always been at the top of my list because of the team, coach Johnson and the area. You know in L.A. there are so many opportunities there." The closest that Smith has been to Los Angeles is Clovis high school in Fresno. "I know a lot about the area. I need to know if I would fit in. I think it would be nice if I could."
Smith said that he would trip the same weekend as defensive tackle teammate Jared Naylor. "Yeah, we're going the 9th (of January)."
"I really wasn't pushing him hard to visit UCLA," Naylor said. "I just told him it was in his best interest to experience more than one trip." Naylor received a call from UCLA on New Year's Day. "Coach Johnson called the other night, but I wasn't here. He spoke to my parents." Asked if his parents were happy with the new coaching situation at UCLA, Naylor said, "Yeah, they are really happy with it, especially with coach Johnson staying."
Asked if he watched the Rose Bowl Wednesday, Smith said, "Yes I did. It would be nice if I could play my home games there."