KNOXVILLE — Five days after receiving a verbal commitment for the class of 2013 from offensive lineman Brett Kendrick of Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK), the Vols simply looked down the hall at CAK to get another.
Wide receiver Josh Smith, a high school teammate of Kendrick’s, confirmed to Nooga.com that he committed to the Vols on Thursday morning.
Smith becomes the ninth commitment for the Vols. He joins Kendrick, offensive lineman Austin Sanders of Bradley Central High School and wide receiver Camion Patrick of Lenoir City High School as the fourth East Tennessee prospect to join the Vols’ 2013 haul.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” Smith said. “I’ve been going to games since I was really little. I always wanted to play for UT. It’s always been my No. 1 choice. It’s really a great honor.”
Smith received the scholarship offer after attending a one-day camp on Tuesday with several teammates. CAK quarterback Charlie High, another 2013 target for UT, was among those in attendance.
The members of the Warriors’ 2011 3A state championship team went through a battery of drills under the watchful eyes of the UT offensive coaches. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Smith clocked a 4.51 40-yard dash and added a 36-inch vertical leap during the drills.
Despite those impressive numbers, it was the football-specific skills that probably sold the Vol coaches.
“I did a have a good 40 [time] and vertical leap and all that stuff, but I think they were more impressed with my routes and my open field speed,” Smith said. “I wasn’t expecting a lot. I was just hoping to compete and do my best. Well, I did a lot better than we expected, and I guess they thought I was impressive and they pulled the trigger. I was really excited.”
Smith had no other offers before receiving and accepting one from the Vols. He was set to travel the camp circuit this summer to try and change that.
Now, with an offer in hand, he plans to stay in Knoxville for the summer and focus on working out and helping the Warriors repeat as 3A state champions in 2012.
“I was supposed to go to other camps and they said they would offer me after that, but now I’m committed to UT and cancelled all of the other stuff,” Smith said.
Smith will face a transition as he moves from CAK’s air-raid offense to the more balanced attack the Vols employ. The Warriors, led by head coach Rusty Bradley, rely heavily on Smith and High to move the ball through the air.
His gaudy numbers in 2011 — 96 catches for 1,918 yards and 22 touchdowns — are evidence of the Warriors’ success through the air. He knows it won’t come that easily in college.
“We pretty much just throw the ball,” Smith said. “They run the ball at UT a lot but throw it a lot, too. It’s going to be a good transition. We just run our routes, try to do it as precise as we can, but at UT I know they’re going to have corners all over you, pressing you, so it’s just going to be a different environment.”
Despite the differences, he knows he’ll have at least one familiar person with him in Kendrick. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t mind having more though.
“Brett getting offered — just the fact that somebody from my team is going with me is just the greatest feeling,” Smith said. “We’re hoping that Charlie (High) gets offered too — we’d love to have three people. We’ll see what God has for us.”