Alabama landed a highly-touted recruit last August when cornerback Geno Smith from St. Pius X High School in Atlanta committed to the Crimson Tide.
Smith, who signed with Alabama in February, chose the Tide over such schools as Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas and Southern California.
Alabama should be thankful it didn’t have to beat out Tennessee for Smith’s services. That’s because in a Q&A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smith revealed a secret about his recruitment.
“I really liked Tennessee,” Smith said. “All my junior year, I would come home and play ‘Rocky Top’ on YouTube and then hit repeat.”
That kind of interest could have given Tennessee an advantage in its recruitment of Smith. That’s why he told the AJC his biggest disappointment from the recruiting process was the lack of communication from the Vols.
“A coaching change happened with whomever recruited my area during my junior year,” Smith said. “I didn’t know who was recruiting me until later that spring. By that time, I was like, ‘OK, we’re going to shift it to Alabama and Auburn.’”
The coaching change Smith referenced involved former defensive line coach Chuck Smith, who left Derek Dooley’s staff following the 2010 season. It’s unclear who on the staff was responsible for recruiting Smith during the spring of his junior year.
It’s puzzling why Tennessee would be slow to recruit Smith, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 2 cornerback and 31st overall prospect in the 2012 class by ESPNU. Atlanta, which is less than a four-hour drive from Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, is also a city of focus in recruiting for the Vols.
It’s possible Smith wasn’t ranked as highly on Tennessee’s board as most other schools, although that would be surprising. There’s also no guarantee Smith would have signed with the Vols even if they had begun to recruit him earlier in the process.
But there’s a reason Smith was disappointed in the slow recruitment from Tennessee. Vols fans will likely join him in that frustration.