March 17, 2011
Atlanta cornerback likes Saban
University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who is considered one of the best secondary coaches in the nation, tends to be selective when recruiting cornerbacks. But the UA coaching staff has found one it likes in Geno Smith of St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta.
"I find playing under (Saban) to be a good opportunity to go into," Smith said. "He's very experienced at what he does. If you play under a guy like him, it's just an advantage you have when you get to that stage where you're thinking about going to the next level."
The Crimson Tide had seven players taken in last year's NFL draft, including cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Javier Arenas. Up to six more former UA players could be taken in this year's draft.
"I like their coaching staff. I like the pipeline they have with players making it to the NFL," Smith said. "I've built a relationship with Coach (Burton) Burns down there and Coach (Chris) Rumph. Everybody seems interested in me, and they want me at Alabama, so I like Alabama right now."
Rumph, Alabama's defensive line coach, is now Smith's primary recruiter, but the Georgia prospect also talks with Burns and UA defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Smith visited Tuscaloosa last month for one of Alabama's junior days. On the trip, he got a chance to sit down and talk with the Tide coaching staff in person.
"The trip was very nice," Smith said. "We toured the facilities. We went to the stadium, went to campus and saw the academic side of it. I got the chance to sit down with Coach Saban and the other coaches, and we just talked. I felt comfortable with them. I enjoyed the visit."
Last fall, Smith visited Alabama for both the Penn State game and the Auburn game.
"The atmosphere is crazy at Bryant-Denny," he said. "That's the thing that stood out to me when I went on those game-day visits, the tradition that is there and that fan base."
The talented cornerback plans on coming back this spring to observe UA practice, as well as this summer for Alabama's camp.
At this point, Smith has already received 26 scholarship offers. He said Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Tennessee and Southern Cal are recruiting him the hardest right now.
"I'm enjoying the process," Smith said. "I'm enjoying visiting the schools, getting to know some of these coaches and meeting different players at different school. I don't have any favorites because I want to see each school and give everybody a fair shot before I break it down."
Don't expect a decision anytime soon from Smith. He plans on taking his official visits next January after his high school season wraps and expects to make a decision close to signing day.
Reach Greg Ostendorf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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