The ‘potential of the program’ keeps 5-star Nolan Smith II committed to UGA


Nolan Smith--UGA recruiting

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We had a good conversation with 5-star UGA commit Nolan Smith II this week. Here’s what he is thinking now and what he thinks all of that will ultimately lead to in the end with his decision. 

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DawgNation readers always want to know who will be the next player to commit. That’s as instinctive as that like button.

They just never ask who might be the most likely to de-commit.

Nolan Smith-UGA recruiting
Nolan Smith said this summer he will very likely remain committed to UGA unless something ‘tragic’ happens. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

For the longest time, those worries have been about Nolan Smith II of Savannah, Ga. The 5-star recruit is the nation’s No. 6 overall prospect for 2019. If he continues at his current work rate, he will make an early impact in big-time college football.

He chose UGA in January. Smith was just a 4-star recruit with strong off-the-field character traits back then. 

It was right at the time of his transfer to IMG Academy. He then moved to Florida and put on about 18 pounds in five weeks. Smith did so while dropping his speed and enhancing his lethal first-step quickness off the line.

His stock reached 5-star territory. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound prospect now can run a 4.4 in the 40. If tested, his vertical leap would be north of 40 inches.

Clemson wants the flip. Those odds will not be long when one considers that:

  • The Tigers just won a national championship and reached the national finals the year before. Dabo Swinney now wins the big games in December.
  • It is a very impressive program with remarkable new facilities. There is talent on hand and even more on the way. The aim is still to win big beyond the Deshaun Watson days.
  • Smith met a likely lifelong friend at IMG in 5-star senior Xavier Thomas. The Clemson commit wants Smith to play side-by-side with him in Death Valley. Those two feed off one another.
  • He’s been very impressed by Clemson. Smith has taken at least two visits there since he’s been committed to Georgia.

Despite all of that, he remains committed to Georgia.

Why? That’s a question everyone wants to know his answer to. Smith shared a very pro-UGA tweet on Wednesday. It was such a relief to Bulldogs fans that it garnered at least 128 retweets and 602 likes.

He visited both Clemson and Georgia over the last week.

How Nolan Smith feels about Georgia right now

Smith still casually drops a lot of “we” and “our” into his thoughts about Georgia.

What keeps him committed? It sounds like he knows something.

“Really just the potential of our program and the things that are about to happen,” Smith said. “I can’t speak on it but some crazy things are about to happen.”

Nolan Smith-UGA recruiting
Nolan Smith did cut up some at The Opening. He played reporter at the event and even asked a question to 5-star QB Justin Fields. (Jeff Sentell/SEC Country)

Smith said at Nike’s The Opening this summer he needed UGA to stack up big wins. That will help him lure other elite prospects to UGA.

“That’s still really what I’m going off right now,” he said.

The strength of his commitment had waned over the summer. He even confirmed as much.

“It was an amazing weekend,” Smith said of his time at UGA. “The coaches and I got back on the same page. We were distant for awhile but now we are all good and everything like that. I really feel that visit was all good and now I have a decision to make.”

How does UGA retain his commitment? There seems to be a formula:

  • Win the SEC East this year
  • Sign the players he feels are on the way
  • Recruit him with a strong line of communication
  • Keep OLBs coach Kevin Sherrer on staff

What led him to tweet that “can’t wait to be a part of the Wolfpack” line?

“I just felt that people just had to know at the end of the day I am still a Georgia commit,” he said. “But I am still open to other options because I never know what can happen in these two years. That could be Coach Sherrer — my position coach — getting fired. He’s making a huge impact on me. I mean I really love Coach Sherrer and would really love to play for him.”

Nolan Smith had quite the football weekend

Smith said his experience at Clemson for the Auburn game was terrific. He described it in detail as such.

He had been evacuated from IMG Academy in Florida with Hurricane Irma on the way. IMG’s game last weekend was canceled. But then his family also had to evacuate from Savannah.

The 5-star junior traveled to watch Clemson play, but also used the extra time he had on his hands for an extended stay at UGA. Smith told DawgNation he spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday in Athens. He left on Tuesday.

Nolan Smith-UGA recruiting
Nolan Smith rates as the nation’s No. 6 overall prospect for the Class of 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Clemson made a great impression on him with that big Saturday win in Death Valley. But the Bulldogs might have equalized it.

He bonded with Georgia’s Wolfpack. That’s the lineage of pass-rushing outside linebackers in Athens. Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter now follow the path set by Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins.

Georgia impressed him. He got to see the coach’s copy of the film against Notre Dame. Smith had never seen a college practice before, much less an in-season version.

He experienced both this week at Georgia.

“It was nice,” Smith said. “It was amazing. Those guys really were flying around. When they started practicing, they didn’t stop moving until it was over.”

The pull from Clemson and 5-star DE Xavier Thomas

Thomas has established himself as a mentor in Smith’s life. The nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for 2018 is someone Smith said he knows he can trust.

Nolan Smith considers Clemson 5-star senior commit Xavier Thomas (left) to be a mentor and a very close friend. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

He calls him “X.”

“It is just amazing working with X just to go out that far,” Smith said. “I’m blessed to have him as a mentor and someone to look up to. At the end of the day, it is my own decision. But it is good to know that if I go with him I will be well taken care of at Clemson. He looked out for me when we were at IMG so I most definitely feel he will look out for me when we are in college. You know, we are supposed to play side-by-side with each other.”

What does he like about Clemson beyond playing with Thomas?

“Really the family part,” Smith said. “Some teams say that but certain schools don’t stress the family part or the family aspect. They are harping on the family and just the educational standpoint of what I want to study in college and major in.”

What did Nolan Smith think of the Notre Dame game?

Some prospects share only that they like to play the game. They aren’t that big of fans when it comes to watching games on television, even the most-hyped games. Smith might just think those players are out of their mind.

“I most definitely saw the [Notre Dame] game,” Smith said. “I’m not like some of those guys. They would be crazy not to watch a game like that. Just to watch other guys compete and the way they fight through everything. I most definitely watched the game, and I watched Zo and Dav work. When I was at Clemson, my dad and I watched that game on his phone.

“When I went up to UGA, I watched the coach’s copy of the game and it was amazing.”

He saw the crowd that traveled to support UGA.

“It wasn’t even a neutral-site game at that,” Smith said. “It was a home game. We were doing all our home traditions and I really thought that was amazing.”

He called the fan support “crazy” and “wild.”

“I would love to play for something like that,” Smith said.

The big picture with Smith’s decision

Let’s flash back to Smith’s commitment day. He made his pledge but also tweeted he was going to be open to other schools.

That is exactly what is happening right now.  Alabama and Clemson are the two programs that hope to shred his commitment to Georgia. How hard of a choice will this eventually be?

“I just really sit back and see what the coaches are saying and see how they are teaching and developing their players because the proof is in the pudding with that,” he said. “I just sit back and just wait and just watch.”

When does he think he will finally put this decision to bed?

“I don’t know,” Smith said. “It will most definitely be after my senior season.”

Miss a day of Intel? Well, the DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to Mecole Hardman speed before your tailgate crew can worry anymore about all the freshman offensive linemen who will have to play this fall.

The post The ‘potential of the program’ keeps 5-star Nolan Smith II committed to UGA appeared first on DawgNation.


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