Jacob Smith, who recently completed his sophomore season, was sitting in a hotel several months back when his coach asked, "Jacob, where do you want to go to college?" Smith answered with a resounding, "Vanderbilt!".
Smith's coach then looked up the Commodore staff's number and got in touch with them, letting the 6-foot-6 pitcher speak with Vandy coaches right there in the hotel.
Later Vanderbilt pitching coach Scott Brown came down to watch Smith pitch. He apparently liked what he saw and that was a 12/6 curveball, a slider and nasty changeup in addition to an 89-mile-an-hour fastball which is pretty impressive for a 16-year-old. Brown later returned to watch more and an offer was extended. Smith committed to Vanderbilt on June 26 over an offer from Auburn and interest from Mississippi State, Cincinnati, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Clemson.
What was it that drew Smith to Vanderbilt?
"They have an awesome baseball program and another thing was the bond with the coaches," said Smith. "Their academics there are unbelievable. The relationship with the coaches was better than any other coach I've ever talked to."
As a sophomore Smith dominated for Calera finishing with a 6-1 record (0.75 ERA) while striking out 114 batters and walking just 13 in 51 innings of work. He allowed just 12 hits the entire season. Smith, who earned All-County and All-State honors following the 2016 campaign, also played first base and batted .420 with one home run.
While Smith won't report to Vanderbilt until 2018, he will stay busy honing his talents. This summer he's playing for the East Cobb Astros. The Astros have already played 50 games and still have another month to go.
Folks say that Vanderbilt doesn't rebuild in baseball, they just reload. Looking at Smith's abilities being just a sophomore, you can see a good example of why the Commodores have remained a force in college baseball. Smith is one of 19 2018 players that have already committed to Vanderbilt.