Georgia's recruiting class just got a huge lift with the commitment of Macon County linebacker Roquan Smith. Smith, a 6'2, 205 pounder, was rated a four star recruit by each of the major recruiting services and generally considered one of the top five recruits in the state of Georgia for the class of 2015. As you've no doubt heard over the past nine days, he picked the 'Dawgs over offers from UCLA, Texas A&M, Michigan, and USC.
You can see Smith's highlights below:
Earlier this year I said that Roquan Smith was perhaps the best big "athlete" in the state for this recruiting cycle. I stand by that assessment. He combines linebacker size and aggression with enough elite quickness that he could conceivably play receiver at some schools (it won't happen at Georgia). At various times this season he scored touchdowns on interception returns, kick returns, as a tailback, and receiver for the Macon County Bulldogs.
Ultimately Smith is likely to grow into an outside linebacker who's dangerous as a pass rusher but also competent to drop back in coverage. While it's hard to compare him perfectly to any current Bulldog, I'd most closely relate him to a Leonard Floyd type, but will much better coverage skills. That's. . . .sort of frightening, right?
Of course as has been widely reported Smith has no plans to sign a letter of intent, and therefore could theoretically change his mind up until the time he enrolls in Athens. I don't think that's terribly likely at this point. For one Smith seems pretty sick of the drama surrounding his decision. For another, at this point it seems relatively unlikely that a coaching change (like the one that UCLA coaches seem to have gone to great lengths to prevent Smith from finding out about) would befall his potential position coaches. Tracy Rocker coaches weak side linebackers and just received a promotion to keep him in Athens, and Kevin Sherrer (who coaches strong side linebackers) hasn't been linked to any outside overtures. While I'd never say never in regard to Smith and his already wacky saga, yet another flip would be truly unprecedented.
A final word of caution. No, Roquan Smith isn't "revolutionizing" college football recruiting. He is neither the first or last player to forego the NLOI process. He (and his circle of advisors) have however been smart enough to know that he's one of the 20-30 players in a given year with enough value to not go through that process without having coaches move on to the next guy on their board. You read it here first, however: there will be a prospect in 2016 who "pulls a Roquan" and ends up getting passed over by his dream school as a result. Remember kids, do not try this at home.
Until later . . .