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Braden Smith's recruitment, quiet as it was, is headed toward and uncharacteristically loud finish.
The four-star offensive linemen has stayed quiet during the entirety of the process. His decisions were protected and his o[ions were muffled. But when it comes time to choose between finalists TCU, Texas A&M and Auburn, Smith will do it with a metaphorical megaphone.
"I got after him on Friday and told him he can't be this stranger that doesn't talk anymore," said Jeff Gourley, who coaches Smith at Olathe (Kan.) South High School. "ESPN wants to do a thing at our school, and that's what it's looking like. I've encouraged Braden to let it happen. They are just getting the details finalized."
And so the finish line is set. As are the finalists. When Smith cancelled his planned visit to Notre Dame and replaced it with a trip to Auburn, which will take place next weekend, the final shift was over. The driving forces behind each option have been stated and restated.
TCU holds a family tie. Smith's sister is on the track team in Fort Worth. A&M has the draw of the SEC and a longstanding relationship with Smith and his parents. And as for Auburn …
The Tigers are coming on harder than any of the bunch.
"The Auburn visit is this coming weekend," Gourley said. "Coach [J.B] Grimes from Auburn is going to come up here Thursday and visit for a little bit and meet the parents. Then Braden is going down to Auburn that following day."
Smith, who holds more than 18 scholarship offers, is set to visit A&M on Jan. 24 and TCU on Jan. 31. Notre Dame, on which Smith was once considering, has been totally eliminated from consideration.
The top player in the state of Kansas, Smith is the No. 51 overall prospect in the country.
Rob Cassidy is a West Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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