It's not that Markel Smith has totally shut down his recruitment - that wouldn't be particularly smart for an uncommitted player. It's just that he's taking a mini-break of sorts.
The three-star running back isn't calling many coaches these days. Instead, he's collecting letters. The usual suspects remain involved in the process, though. Missouri, to which Smith was once verbally committed, is in the mix. Iowa is hanging around, as is Ole Miss.
And, as it turns out, that list coincides with Smith's rough plans for official visits.
"I'm going to go to Mizzou, I'm going to go to Iowa and I'm going to go Ole Miss," Smith said by phone on Wednesday. "I'm going to get those three out of the way and keep the other two spots open for new offers or something."
Smith is hesitant to name frontrunner as things stand now, but it's clear that three programs he plans to visit hold a certain advantage. Separating them isn't easy. Smith does say, however, the Tigers remain a real, viable option.
As Smith has stressed all along, his de-commitment from Missouri should not be construed as a total loss of interest in the home-state school. It's a point the three-star prospect makes in every interview.
"They are still in there," Smith said. "Mizzou isn't going anywhere. I just felt like, at the time, I committed too young. I was just a sophomore. I wanted to open it up and see what happened."
Setting visits is at the forefront of Smith's mind for the time being, and rightfully so. Smith doesn't intend to drag this process out. For a guy taking a short break from the recruiting process, his loose timetable is aggressive.
"I think I am going to try to commit before the end of my season," Smith said. "I'm not totally sure, so I'm not going to say I am or I'm not, but that's what I would like to do. I'm not too sure about that. I'm not 100 percent."
There's more certainty in his voice when he begins to explore the most important items on his checklist. Smith forgoes the usual platitudes about style of play and relationships with assistant coaches. Instead, he gets right to it. Smith has some specific items he's looking for and he's not afraid to share them.
"Somewhere I feel comfortable in off the field, most definitely," he said. "Also, I want a coach that isn't biased, you know what I mean? I don't have to start, but I feel like if a player works hard and does what the coaches say, he should get some clock. He should at least get a chance."
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