The Fresno State Bulldogs have been recruiting the state of Texas pretty hard this offseason and their recruiting work is paying off. Houston (TX) St. Pius X safety Jalen Smith will be unofficially visiting the Bulldogs today and things couldn’t be looking brighter for the Bulldogs. With Smith’s dad having business in the Valley, it’s starting to look more and more like the Bulldogs and Smith could be a perfect fit for one another.
Smith will be visiting the area for four days. He really likes what the Bulldogs have to offer and the strong support of his parents has him leaning toward the Bulldogs. To pull Smith out of Texas, the Bulldogs put Jordan Peterson on his recruitment. The relationship has paid off in spades and the two feel very comfortable with each other. It also doesn’t hurt that Fresno State has a guy like Derron Smith leading the defense right now.
”The person I probably have the closest relationship with is probably my head coach,” Smith said. “We have a new coach. When he got here he was telling me about how Fresno State is a good program and all. I said I’d be interested in it. Then Coach Peterson came and watched me practice. That was the day they offered me during spring ball. I’m staying down there for actually about four days. I’m leaving tomorrow and I come back Tuesday. It was actually just a good place because it’s in Fresno. My dad has his own staffing company and the headquarters is right in Fresno. So, that just fell in place really well. I’ve looked the school up a lot. I really like the program they have right now. They’re really a coming up program. I really watch their safety. That’s somebody that I would look up to if I went there.”
Loyalty means a lot to Smith and the fact that Fresno State came after him before anyone else means the world to him. The reason Fresno is so high on Smith’s list is because they saw his potential before anyone else. As mentioned earlier, Derron Smith’s play is something that has safeties around the nation interested in Fresno State, Smith is no exception to this rule.
”I feel like they realized what talent I had before any other school because they were the first school to offer me,” Smith said. “With Derron Smith and all, I feel like that really shows Fresno State is one of those top programs in country coming up. With him and all the other DBs, they’re really putting Fresno State on the map, with Smith being a lot of people’s top safety and possibly coming out this year in the NFL draft. I also know he was on the pre-season list for the Jim Thorpe Award. Fresno State, they’ve won the title for the Mountain West these past years. It’s really helped them and their program.”
Smith has busy couple of days while he is in Fresno. Since he already has his major mapped out, he plans to use this opportunity to see what Fresno State has to offer on the communications and journalism side of things. Football is still the first factor in his decision, but the chance to major in journalism with many of his teammates is something that has Smith excited.
”I’m spending a whole day there from maybe nine to three or something,” Smith said. “I’m going to meet with all the coaches. I think Coach Peterson is taking me around the campus. My decision is really based on football, but the other part is based on my major. I really want to major in journalism or communications. They have a really good journalism/communications program. That’s something that really attracted me to go there also. I want to be a sports broadcaster like on ESPN or something. So that’s something that really stood out to me. When Coach Peterson came to watch me and he asked me about my major, he said that’s what all their football players really major in is journalism and communications.”
If it’s starting to sound like Smith could pull the trigger and commit to Fresno State on this visit, it’s because that is a very distinct possibility. While he isn’t absolute set on making a decision this weekend, Smith is leaving the door open for that possibility. For Smith, committing to a school is all about the feeling. If he has a blast while he’s in Fresno, then that could be all she wrote for his recruiting. If not, Smith will reevaluate his options upon his return.
”I’m really considering just going up there and if I feel like that’s the place I need to be, then that’s what I’m going to do,” Smith said. “I’m going to tell them that that’s where I want to play college football. But, at the same time, I never know what’s going to happen once I get there, if I’m going to like it or not. But, from the perspective of me being here, in Houston, and from just looking at the program, then yeah, I would say that that’s something I would do. I would feel like I would commit there if that’s how I feel. I’m going to be down there for four days and I’m going tomorrow. Before my visit I have a least two days to look around the town and all to see if that’s where I want to be.”
If it’s also starting to seem like the staff is focused on Texas, that’s because they absolutely are. Smith is a lot like most Texas kids in that he has a ton of love for his home state and believes that the best football players in the country come from Texas. The best way to recruit a kid like that is to send someone who agrees with Smith about the talent in Texas and that’s exactly how the Bulldogs played it.
”A lot of kids from Texas, most of the time they do stay in Texas,” Smith said. “I remember Coach Peterson telling me they’re starting to recruit more kids from Texas because they feel like Texas football is the closer to college football than all the other states in America. One thing that they told me that I really liked is that Texas high school football is closer to college football than California or Florida. That’s what they told me. They’re leaning more toward Texas kids now because of that.”
Peterson’s ability to relate to Smith and assuage his concerns about coming to California from Texas have Fresno State sitting at the top of his recruiting board. It’s a hard thing to convince a kid from Texas to leave, but Smith high school coach and Peterson have managed to sell him on the program to the point where Smith can’t help but consider the Bulldogs. The ringing endorsement that his high school coach gave the Bulldogs has all but sealed the deal for Smith.
”Yeah, that’s something that really helped me make my decision,” Smith said. “I feel like it’ll make my decision easier because of how they came from California to watch me practice and then they offered me. Some Texas schools were recruiting me but I felt that they were pretty much staying even. If I got all these other offers, they would be in my top three because they were the first school to offer me, no matter what. So, I really like that. I also have a really good relationship with Coach Peterson. When he first came I was like, ‘okay, this had to be a place where I would want to play,’ based on how he talked to me. My DB coach, he played for Rice. He’s been like an idol. He’s been helping me with a lot right now. He was drafted by the Packers as an unsigned free agent, or something like that. He was telling me that Fresno State is a really good program and how if they came and offered him he would have gone back there right off that. That really helped me with a lot of thinking. Comfort wise, I noticed how some of them came from Texas A&M and stuff. They were telling me how they feel like Texas is where the kids are. I feel like that’s the place where I want to be is Fresno State because of just how all the people are talking to me about it.
Whether or Smith pulls the trigger will depend on how things went this weekend and today, but the Bulldogs could very well have another committed defensive back by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Stay tuned to BulldogPlaybook.com for more updates on the 2014 Fresno State season.
Josh Webb is a Staff Writer for BulldogPlaybook. You can follow him on Twitter at @FightOnTwist.