Tigers still in the mix for elite 2019 DE Nolan Smith
Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star defensive end Nolan Smith has been committed to Georgia since January 2017.
But more than a year later, Clemson remains in the mix for his services. In fact, Smith said on Sunday at The Opening Atlanta regional that Clemson is stuck in his mind.
“There’s several things about Georgia and the defense that they run,” Smith said. “I feel like I’m a 3-4 outside linebacker, but I’m playing in a 4-3 system right now and I’m working just fine.
“They’re (Clemson) still in it, but it’s kind of hard because I really want to play in a 3-4 defense. But there’s some reason that I just can’t stop thinking about Clemson.”
Smith (6-3, 230) cited Clemson’s family culture as something that appeals to him about the program.
“Like they say, it’s a real family up there,” he said, “and that’s what I want to feel when I go to school. So that’s really the vibe I get from them.”
Smith stays in touch with Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas and linebacker Mike Jones, his former teammates at IMG Academy, and likes what he has heard from them about the campus life.
“You know me, I’m a chill type of guy, and they said after they work out they just chill, play games and everything like that,” Smith said. “It’s not like most colleges where boys go out and party and stuff like that. They say that’s not Clemson, and I feel like that’s the type of environment I want to be in — somewhere that we’re a family and we work together.
“Like at IMG, most people don’t know, we spend most our time together. We’re a real brotherhood because we spend seven days a week, not just at practice and school — we live with each other. So, that’s what I want to feel.”
As for Clemson’s staff, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall and defensive tackles coach Todd Bates all continue to communicate with Smith.
“I’ve been hearing from them a good bit,” Smith said. “Coach Ski and Coach Bates stay on the DM, the text message, and Coach Venables is the most consistent of them all.”
Alabama is another school that Smith said is still in the picture.
Smith, who is ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the 2019 class, plans to sign in December and enroll early in his school of choice.
While Smith is considering a couple of other suitors besides Georgia, he says he remains solid on his commitment to the Bulldogs. However, he is keeping his options open.
“It’s pretty strong,” Smith said of his pledge, “but I’ve got to stay open because you never know what’ll happen.”
Smith wants to visit Clemson this summer and said he could possibly attend the Orange & White spring game on April 14 to watch Thomas and Jones compete.