Atlanta’s Geno Smith likes how he looks in a UGA No. 4 jersey

Geno Smith has a reputation at St. Pius for flying around the field. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Geno Smith has a reputation at St. Pius for flying around the field. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Before he took a trip to Athens this past weekend, Geno Smith said he never thought much about what number jersey he might wear in college.

Then the Bulldogs took them into their newly constructed locker room, put him in a home red No. 4 red jersey, then took him over to a display of former All-American and Nagurski Award winner Champ Bailey. The Denver Broncos’ All-Pro cornerback just so happened to wear that same No. 4 while he was in Athens.

“At first, I wasn’t really thinking about wearing the same number I have in high school,” said Smith, who wears the number 4 at St. Pius. “But after putting that jersey on and seeing it, I like it. I’ll definitely try to wear 4 wherever I go now.”

Smith’s profile pic on his Facebook page now features him wearing the Georgia No. 4 jersey and posing with his mother in front of the Champ Bailey display.

Smith, a 6-foot, 165-pound athlete, is considered among the top few prospects in the state of Georgia for the 2012 class. I picked him No. 2 in my Tentative Top 10. More than 10 months before the signing period begins, he already has 27 scholarship offers. And more are coming in every week.

Smith said his plan is to narrow that ever-growing number down to a top 10 or 12 by the beginning of summer and hopefully a top five by the start of his senior season.

But after his visit to UGA, he said you can go ahead and pencil in the Bulldogs among the finalists.

“After that visit Saturday, I feel like they’ll definitely make my first 10,” Smith said. “They made a very good impression.”

It’s not like Smith hadn’t been there before. In fact, Saturday was his fourth recruiting trip to Georgia. But it was his first for a junior day, which means he could take his time, be shown around and spend some quality time with the coaches.

“I definitely learned more this time,” said Smith, who had been to UGA for two camps and a football game last year. “I learned a lot more about the academics, about the defense they run. I had a lot more one-on-one time with coaches so I had a chance to build some relationships, too. It was a good visit.”

Smith said he got to spend extended time with head coach Mark Richt and with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who he previously had not known very well. “He’s a very cool guy,” Smith said of Grantham. “We hit it off. We had a good conversattion. We just talked about football and some other things. It was nice to just sit down and talk to him.”

What Smith gleaned most from the entire experience was how much he is wanted in Athens.

“They said I’m the No. 1 cornerback on their board,” Smith said. “They can see me playing the boundary corner, blitzing the quarterback and they can see me playing in the slot, catching passes and making plays on offense. They just see me as very versatile.”

Smith is a two-way player, kind of like another guy that used to wear the No. 4 at Georgia. Bailey once played more than 100 plays in a single game for the Bulldogs plauying both sides of the ball. He played extensively at slotback and made the middle screen a homerun play for former coach Jim Donnan.

Nevertheless, recruiting is far from a done deal for Smith. Athens was just one of two stops on the weekend. The other was to Auburn.

Smith’s offers are from all over and he plans to get around to get a first-hand look at as many as possible. He has said he likes Alabama and Tennessee a lot. And he has family in Miami, which he plans to visit during spring break (smart kid).

And even if he plans to stay in state, the Bulldogs will look to be in a major battle with Georgia Tech. Smith also likes the Yellow Jackets a lot and has been on that campus as much or more than the one in Athens.

“I’m in contact with Coach [Joe] Speed all the time,” Smith said of the Jackets’ linebackers coach. “Of all the coaches I’ve gotten to know, me and him have the strongest relationship. I’ve been to Tech a lot. Not recently but I’ve been there plenty of times.”

There’s plenty of time left before Smith’s recruiting story plays out. He has already accepted an invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio but he has no plans to make an announcement there or to even have his mind made up by then.

More than likely his will be a national signing day decision or maybe shortly before that.

“I kind of just want to do it at my school or as some kind of little event, Smith said. “I always grew up watching guys do it like that and I just think that’s what I want to do. Plus,  I want to make the best decision possible, so I’m not in a hurry.”

So it looks like this marathon race is just getting started.

By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog

139 comments Add your comment

RomeDawg

March 30th, 2011
5:51 am

You will look great in that number 4 UGA jersey! Everyone in Athens would love to have you.

kb

March 30th, 2011
5:53 am

#2, yippeeeee

Bama Fan#2

March 30th, 2011
6:11 am

He would look good in crimson and white to!! Watch HBO sports program tonight
about the cow college $$$$$$$$$$ players!!! RTR

Destin Dawg

March 30th, 2011
6:41 am

Parade Magazine says ” UGA #3 Large State University education.. plus Big Time sports program ” in beautiful college town… Geno come to Athens, Ga…. Go Dawgs !!!!!

Douglas

March 30th, 2011
7:05 am

Chip: I thought the NCAA didn’t allow schools to give prospective recruits a jersey to wear or allow them to put it on. Of course, I may be wrong.

Paddy

March 30th, 2011
7:09 am

Kids like Geno should play in state unless he is just overwhelmed by someone. Good luck, you sound like a great kid! Just don’t go to Arkansas, “that coach” is still down there.

Jacket Man

March 30th, 2011
7:11 am

Douglas, as long as he’s not wearing the jersey in a game like situation, he should be fine.

Luke

March 30th, 2011
7:14 am

Douglas,

They can put on a jersey, they just can’t be put into a simulated game situation like Crowell was. He was fine until he put himself into formation.

Destin Dawg

March 30th, 2011
7:26 am

College kids have more success in school and life in general when they stay in State…. close to support groups, friends, family… unless they need a highly specialized ” rocket science ” major.. Go Dawgs !!!

Blackoutanyone?

March 30th, 2011
7:27 am

Douglas… as I understand it the school can not personalize the jersey with the prospective student athlete’s name. Usually these jerseys belong to current players. When J. Clowney took a visit to Bama earlier this year photos got out of him wearing an undersized #7 that is usually worn by one of our WR.

Brown Dog

March 30th, 2011
7:35 am

Blackout, does the Tide have a realistic shot with Geno?

dap01

March 30th, 2011
8:00 am

Has anyone heard if Auburn has made their offer yet? How much will they cough up for Smith?

DS

March 30th, 2011
8:07 am

@ Dap01…Its not how much will they cough up, because they will meet the demand.. only if theres room under the salary cap and how much the others require.

Stinger'95

March 30th, 2011
8:07 am

I guess he has very good acudemics if GT wants him. Of course it all depens on him. Does he want a good education (GT) or he does want to waste 4 years in college (UGA).
Go Jackets

Who cares (the original)

March 30th, 2011
8:08 am

Not sure how much stock I will put into a picture. If he commits today, I will believe he is going to UGA. Seeing that he is just starting to take trips outside to Tech I expect to hear this after every trip.

Who cares (the original)

March 30th, 2011
8:14 am

@Me I don’t make it a habit of defending UGA, but I want to know how you can call Caleb King a cancer. Has he lead a revolt against the coach? Does he lead teammates to commit crimes? If you think he has not lived up to his potential is one thing, but calling him a cancer seems a little extreme. Having kids I know that they can not be the best at everything, and if I was his dad and knew who you were…………………………………………

Go Jackets

GT45

March 30th, 2011
8:15 am

Did they put him in a jersey? Really? I’ll just leave it there. Good luck, Geno. It sounds like you are doing it right.

Football_365

March 30th, 2011
8:15 am

auburn university mission statement: “if you cant beat em, pay em”

Matthews Dawg

March 30th, 2011
8:21 am

Stinger…I hope you made all those mistakes on purpose! You just gave UGA fans a reason to bash GT. Maybe, you set it up, so UGA fans would bash GT. Nothing surprises me on these blogs! Go Dawgs!!

Chip Towers

March 30th, 2011
8:23 am

Douglas: It’s my understanding that every school in America has prospects try on their jersey. It’s game simulations while you’re in said jersey that are a no-no.

Matthews Dawg

March 30th, 2011
8:25 am

Who cares…very nice comments! I don’t think Caleb is a cancer either! Just some knucklehead popping off when they don’t know anything about what is going on at UGA. Hopefully, this comes down to a battle between two in state schools. I would rather a kid go to Tech than out of state. We need to keep the in state kids in state!! Go Dawgs!!

DawginLex

March 30th, 2011
8:26 am

AUBURN GETTING HAMMERED AGAIN

Gotta be concerned over in WDE country………

Plus already clinched 2011 Fulmer Cup

WOW

Bubba J. Dawgman

March 30th, 2011
8:27 am

This kid’s a beast, we need him up in Athens. Come on Geno! Georgia Boys need to stay in state and play for the Dawgs.

SECIsFootball

March 30th, 2011
8:37 am

Brown Dog….I know one of Geno’s coaches and while UGA has a shot, he feels he will end up at UGA. He is friends with Swann which helps UGA a lot. He likes BAMA as well because he would get to work with Saban has his DB coach. I think it is UGA in the end.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 30th, 2011
8:38 am

Douglas, It is not like Auburn where they let the kids put on a jersey then go stand in line at the bank.

Stinger95′, nothing wrong with wasting four years in college, from what I can or can’t remember.
Especially in Athens.

Dawg Gone

March 30th, 2011
8:45 am

King a cancer?? I think he needs a little “attitude adjustment” once in a while but a cancer?? Lighten up Nancy he is a pretty good ball player and young man.

RxDawg

March 30th, 2011
8:45 am

Just tell Geno to turn on HBO tonight when he’s in Auburn.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 30th, 2011
8:47 am

RxDawg, why watch the HBO special when he will be experiencing it?

huh?

March 30th, 2011
8:47 am

Matthews Dawg , Stinger is just being real son. You;re hatred and jealousy is not becoming. THWG!

Go Jackets

Matthews Dawg

March 30th, 2011
8:56 am

huh? That’s right I’m jealous!! Thanks for reminding me. I didn’t say anything to Stinger other than I hope all of those were typo’s, because he left himself open to take abuse. If you read on, you would see that there is not a hatred towards the Jackets! But, now that you act like that… you are right….I really can’t stand that “Trade School” in Atlanta! Go Dawgs!!

chs

March 30th, 2011
8:58 am

Careful, this might be a recruiting violation. :) I wish the young man good luck in wherever he chooses. GATA!!!

trooper taylor

March 30th, 2011
9:01 am

I gotta check my slush fund to see how much money we have. I gotta get that boy to Auburn. Woohoo look at me I’m cool. I have my hat on backwards. Chest bumps for everybody.

Viking87

March 30th, 2011
9:08 am

It would be great to get a highly ranked recruit like this to commit early and start recruiting others to come with him. LeMay did that last year. Drew also, although he didn’t announce his commitment until late. The Stephenson players are doing that now for Florida. I know they aren’t as highly ranked as this kid but he could get some momentum going for UGA for the 2012 class.

STEINER

March 30th, 2011
9:10 am

THEY SAY SINCE CROWELL SCORED A TD IN THE SIMULATED GAME, THAT’S WHAT ALL THE FUSS IS ABOUT….IF HE GOT THROWN FOR A 2 YARD LOSS, IT WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN A BIG DEAL….ARE WE KIDDING HERE????

Paul N Destin

March 30th, 2011
9:11 am

The kids can put on a team jersey but that jersey can’t have their name on the back nor can the locker have their name plate with their name as well. All just silly rules tying to prevent the big dollar schools from outspending the little guys. Look for the NCAA one day to address the type carpet and material that the lockers are made (wood vs metal).

Our friends over in Auburn are have a tuff go of it and they damn well deserve it! The old drunk former coach and his clan have setup the Tigers for a real fall unlike the one he created in 92! Dis one gona haz de sad!

RxDawg

March 30th, 2011
9:14 am

kalamazoo, well of course he will. But at least if he turns on HBO he’ll know that Auburn’s recruiting techniques might not be so “on the down low cuz” as he’s told.

RxDawg

March 30th, 2011
9:16 am

Ok, so does anyone here know what happend to Lowndes25? He went MIA right before signing day and I miss his commentary.

GT Fan Nation

March 30th, 2011
9:17 am

We want GENO!…

We want GENO!…

We want GENO!…

dawgster

March 30th, 2011
9:20 am

@Matthews Dawg…I think you have some insight in the area that Marshall is from..what are you hearing…Is UNC the team to beat for his services….go dawgs

Gary

March 30th, 2011
9:22 am

Damn if he is visiting Auburn he will get a backpack full of cash and the dawgs will never see him again. Level the playing field. PUNISH AUBURN!

GTfan2011

March 30th, 2011
9:25 am

In the picture it looks like he’s already wearing GT colors. Let’s just keep it that way.

Chip,
I heard a rumor that the Tennessee AD is refusing to grant b-ball recruit Kevin Ware a release from his LOI after the Bruce Pearl firing. Seems like a story worth pursuing, if true.

booger

March 30th, 2011
9:33 am

Who the hell want’s to play at ‘AHHHHBURNNNNNN’????

The trees are dead and the gridiron is also. Same as in Columbia.

Outside Observer

March 30th, 2011
9:36 am

My thoughts exactly GTfan2011. It is a Russell jersey, so the design is similar, and the colors look the same. He just needs that GT on his helmet. Hopefully he will be wearing the white and gold at the next level.

I figured UGA would have retired Champ Bailey’s number by now. Or if it hasn’t, it should in the near future. The kid was a stud in college and has been nothing less than beastly in the pros.

BG

March 30th, 2011
9:37 am

Auburn is handing out cash like it’s candy to recruits….

joe

March 30th, 2011
9:40 am

Funny UGA didn’t display one of those black jersey’s with #4 on it, from when they got steamrolled in 2009. Why is that I wonder?

Sopwith Camel

March 30th, 2011
9:43 am

165 pounds??? He must be awfully talented if so many schools are after him.

Going to visit Auburn, huh? Can you say “Ka-ching”?

dawgfan

March 30th, 2011
9:52 am

Its almost cruel the way that high caliber recruits like Geno Smith toy with Georgia Tech. What a tease.

Techies, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at landing this guy. Look at that list: Bama, Auburn, UGA, etc. You NEVER get guys like this. It just doesn’t happen. I am truly sorry.

Anyway, I’m sure he’s a thug who couldn’t handle advanced calculus, right Techies?

gt51

March 30th, 2011
9:55 am

sounds like another recruiting violation to me-much like the one with crowell running plays with the offense. cmr is racking up the violations. guess he feels like he needs to since he will probably be gone after another 5+ loss season

Matthews Dawg

March 30th, 2011
9:56 am

Dawgster…..I would say that is correct from what I know that UNC is the team to beat out for Marshall. UNC though may still have some lingering problems from this past fall’s “Agent gate, tutoring, etc…” mess. I don’t think the NCAA is finished with everything at Chapel Hill.
Also, it’s good to hear from you!
Does anyone know when tickets to the Boise game go on sale to the general public? I don’t have season tickets, because I have kids playing sports all fall, but I do make it to a couple of games every year. Can someone help out with information here? Go Dawgs!!

Atl Sports Fan

March 30th, 2011
9:56 am

Hey Joe, loosing by 11 isn’t steamrolled. What I remember is Alabama only scored 10 points in the second half and was starting to worry a little late in the fourth quarter. I’m suprised Alabama is still wearing their crimson jersey after being steamrolled by Utah and Auburn. For what it’s worth, UGA is 2-1 wearing the black jersey’s. They blew out Auburn and Hawaii.