It has been a long, strange journey for East Mississippi C.C. wide receiver Corey Smith, but the opportunity for the junior college prospect to return to his home state presented itself earlier this week in a conversation with coaches at Ohio State.
"They offered me a scholarship to play," Smith reported. "I had been talking with them about an offer now for some time, but Coach [Zach] Smith called me last night and told me they want me for sure.
Ohio State has been familiar with the 6-foot, 170-pound Smith for a couple years because he started his career off as a four-star prospect at Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio. In what was supposed to be his junior year, Smith was notified that he had exhausted his high school eligibility and had to continue his career at a junior college.
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After playing one season for Grand Rapids (Mich.) C.C. before that school stop fielding a football program, Smith took his game south to East Mississippi. His success on the field this fall helped spark Ohio State's interest.
"They saw my film, and said they need some players to come in and make some plays," Smith said.
Smith planned to follow up on Ohio State's offer with a call to Buckeye's head coach Urban Meyer Tuesday evening.
Rated four-stars, Smith has several opportunities at BCS programs across the country, but the offer from Ohio State puts the Buckeyes near the top of his interest list.
"Definitely they are going to be one of them at the top of my list because it is the school back home and they have a good coaching staff," Smith said. "I still have to take some visits around and see what else is out there, and I still have to go up to Ohio State and visit. I probably am going to go up when they play Michigan."
Smith has yet to schedule any official visits. He has attended two games at Mississippi State this fall, and has the Bulldogs among other schools sitting with Ohio State near the top of his list.
"Mississippi State, Tennessee, Hawaii… that's about it right now, though there are probably going to be some more schools coming after we get done with the playoffs," Smith said.
East Mississippi is off to a 7-0 start to the season, and Smith estimated he has recorded over 30 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns.