Smith says Vanderbilt in top 4

During the spring evaluation period Vanderbilt extended an offer to Florence (Ala.) athlete Rashawn Smith. Smith, 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, now has nine scholarship and says Vanderbilt is a "serious contender" although he hasn't had a chance yet to visit the Nashville campus.

"I was supposed to go up [to Vanderbilt] for the picnic," said Rashawn Smith, "but I had some car trouble and couldn't make it. I'm talking with my dad about trying to get there sometime soon, but I'm just not sure when right now. When I was at the Mississippi State camp I tore cartilage in my knee, so honestly I haven't been doing a lot of talking [to coaches]. I'm trying to recover from the surgery and should be ready to go by next week."

Smith holds offers from Arkansas, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Tulane, and Vanderbilt.

"I've got Vanderbilt in my top three or four schools with Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Arkansas," Smith said. "They told me they're looking at a specific type of player to offer at linebacker and thought I would fit well at outside linebacker in their defense. They loved my size and athleticism. I still need to learn more about the school but I know Coach Franklin is doing a serious job up there in rebuilding the program."

As a junior, Smith felt his future was in basketball (he has a 39-inch vertical leap) and decided to give football up. He rethought that stance going into his junior year and helped lead the Florence Falcons to a 7-3 season playing linebacker and wide receiver. Although he stills plays basketball, Smith knows his future is in football and must decide where he wants to continue playing it after his senior year.

"I'm going to watch closely the first few games of the season," Smith said of the schools recruiting him. "I'll sit down with my family and see which ones they like the best. Education is important to give me something to fall back on after football. I want to go with a school that's been staying in touch and talking with me on a regular basis and not one that comes in at the last minute. It's just about finding a good fit."

Mississippi State landed two players from Florence last year in Beniquez Brown, who Vanderbilt was pursing, and Kivon Coleman. They're hoping for better luck this time around. Florence has a new head coach, Jamey DuBose, this season. DuBose just won the 2011 Alabama 6A state championship at Prattville, a school he helped build into a national powerhouse. The Falcons start their season with Gadsden City on August 31st. Smith wears No. 21 in football and No. 22 in basketball. He also does the high jump and throws the javelin for the track team. Top Stories