Sam Smith went down to UCLA on Thursday to tour the campus, watch practice and meet the coaching staff and he left thinking the Bruins could be a team to consider in the future.
The Elk Grove (Calif.) Cosumnes Oaks four-star defensive end said he was especially impressed with how well the coaches ran practice and he definitely liked seeing former teammate Marcus Rios, a freshman at UCLA, during the workout.
"It was a nice atmosphere," Smith said. "I like how the coaches run their meetings because they tell the players what they're going to have to do, what they're going to see, what's expected of them and what they'd be doing at practice. At my school, we do the same things.
"I like how they do it because at UCLA it would be like I am just transitioning to college. With the academics, they have great tutors so if I went there I wouldn't get lost and not be able to pass school. I'd be able to excel in athletics and in the classroom."
Having Rios with the Bruins would be a factor for Smith, a 6-foot-4, 283-pound prospect, but he said it would not be the only consideration in his recruitment.
"For maybe the first year or the first few terms so he could show me how the school works and how everything is done it would be really cool," Smith said. "It's not a major factor though like I definitely need it."
Washington State and UNLV have offered Smith so far and his recruitment might hit a major upswing once his latest round of grades comes in.
Smith admitted to not taking academics seriously early in his high school career but that has significantly changed and so can his recruitment once college coaches see the latest scores.
UCLA is only one of many Pac-12 schools showing interest in Smith, who along with 2014 teammate Kameron Schroeder are taking unofficial visits to USC on Friday.
"(UCLA) said if I retake the classes and I clean up the few hiccups on my transcript then they'd offer," Smith said. "I have to clean those up and that's what I'm doing now.
"Since I figured out my sophomore year that schools wanted me as an athlete for real I stopped being a knucklehead in class and I'm really focused on school. I'm almost there. I only need one more term and they're all gone.
"I think I can come (to UCLA) and not get homesick. I think that's what a lot of kids have when they leave for school. There is a really good atmosphere there and I feel like I can stay here and do well."