Jacques Smith is one of the top defensive line prospects in the South. Smith, from Ooltewah High School just outside Chattanooga, committed to the Volunteers on the previous Signing Day. Despite the decision to play for the home-state school he still took official visits to other programs over the past few weeks.
"I took one to LSU (11-27)" Smith said. "It was fun and to be honest I went to see coach (John) Chavis. I had a really good relationship with him while he was at Tennessee. I wanted to check them out and see what they had to offer. They are a really good school.
"Last weekend I went to Syracuse (12-4). It was basically for the same reason. I have known coach (Greg) Adkins for a long time, when he was at Tennessee. I wanted to check them out, go see what it was like up there and help them recruit some players. Atkins is a great guy and coach and I wanted to make sure I told those prospects that. They have that thing headed in the right direction."
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Should Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee staff be concerned with Smith? Could he end up in Baton Rouge or Syracuse?
"Nah. I just can't wait to get up there. I am graduating early and it looks like I will be in Knoxville on January 11th after the U.S. Army All-American Game. I mean I want to go to school and play some ball. I think I am down with my visits."
Smith did get a chance to see Knoxville a few times this season. He visited there officially for the Tennessee/Vanderbilt game a few weeks ago.
"I went to see those seniors last football game. I heard some great speeches and saw some intense play. The atmosphere was unbelievable. It was amazing to see everyone play their butt off. That really impressed me.
"I really trust this staff. Tennessee just has everything I want."
Ooltewah made the playoffs once again but Smith said they got bounced out early. That was a disappointing way for Smith to go out.
"I thought the season went well and our team went to payoffs. But we lost in first round after making the semifinals last year. That was very disappointing. We just left the foot off the gas. I had an all right year. I mean I did decent. I won Mr. Football."
Smith, 6-3 and 225 pounds, finished with 79 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.