Darrin Smith understands how recruiting works. So for Nebraska to offer him on Jan. 7, while the coaching staff was still in the middle of putting a good chunk of the 2018 class together, it meant something to him.
Reaching out early definitely helped Nebraska’s case with Smith, a 3-star running back from Frisco, Texas.
“To offer me as soon as they got there, that means a lot,” Smith said. “That means they believe in me, so that’s really big for me.”
Smith is the 11th-ranked all-purpose back in the class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Running backs coach Ryan Held, who also recruits Texas for the Huskers, has been Smith’s contact with Nebraska. He was the coach who offered him in January. The gesture was significant, because it was the first Power 5 offer for Smith. His first offer came from SMU, when Chad Morris — now at Arkansas — was the coach.
“It was just all the work I put in, it’s just really humbling,” Smith said shortly after the offer. “Being able to get a Power 5 school, or any big school, I’m just blessed to get a great education.”
Smith was in attendance for when the Nebraska’s staff, then at UCF, coached at SMU on Nov. 4, a 34-27 win for the Knights. The performance left an impression on Smith.
“That’s a great program, and that was a really good game,” Smith said. “Just for all of [the coaches] to go over to Nebraska, that’s what’s really exciting.”
When making his decision, Smith said he will place a lot of weight on his visits. Smith wants a feel for the campus and to observe how the coaches operate the program firsthand. He thought about heading to Nebraska during his spring break, but has not decided if he will take an unofficial visit during the spring or wait until the fall and use an official visit with the Huskers.
Smith’s top list includes Nebraska, along with TCU, Connecticut, Arizona, Florida Atlantic, Colorado and Toledo. All three of his 247Sports Crystal Ball picks are in favor of TCU.
Smith has started taking his unofficial visits. So far, he’s checked out Baylor and Illinois, but neither program has offered yet. He also had early plans to visit California during spring break, but the Bears have not extended an offer, either.
It’s clear that Smith is still considering several schools. His continued communication with Held can only be a plus for Nebraska at this stage in the game. The relationship-building is also a sign that Held values him.
“They want me to come see everything and get to meet the whole staff,” Smith said. “That’s the main reason I pushed back my commitment, because I didn’t get a chance to go around all my top schools.”
At 5-foot-8 and 178 pounds, Smith is the kind of shifty back who can thrive in coach Scott Frost’s offense.
Nebraska’s program tradition also plays well with Smith, who is also a fan of how the Huskers utilize the position he plays.
“They always have great running backs — that’s always a great school for me,” he said.