ORLANDO, Fla. — Tyreke Smith is five days away from announcing a highly anticipated college commitment. His reveal, set to occur Thursday during the Under Armour All-America Game, won’t come as a surprise to the college football program he picks.
“I let them know maybe three weeks ago,” Smith said during All-America Game media day.
The 6-foot-4, 252-pound Cleveland Heights (Ohio) High School senior has kept the decision silent since. At this point, only that staff knows the outcome of his recruitment.
Smith has a public top-5 list featuring Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and USC, though he said the process ultimately came down to three universities. He intends to notify each of the four teams that won’t sign him prior to declaring a commitment on national television.
Smith will go public with his pick during the All-America Game, which begins at 6 p.m. ET Thursday and is broadcast on ESPN2.
“Development, family, education were three things I focused on,” he said. “I have a 4.0 [GPA], and I take that very serious. I feel like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You get this opportunity and with the schools I have, I want to put myself in the best position to get developed. So I went with the school I felt that way about.”
Despite deciding before college football’s new early signing period (Dec. 20-22), Smith declined to send in a letter of intent.
“They encouraged me to sign, but I didn’t sign,” Smith said.
A Big Ten showdown between Ohio State and Penn State has been brewing for months. Both staffs showed up in the Cleveland Heights basketball gym this season, as he explained here:
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) December 30, 2017
He used an official visit to Penn State earlier in December, joining 15 eventual Nittany Lions signees Dec. 20-22.
“The Penn State visit was actually great,” Smith said. “My whole family was there. I had a great time with the coaching staff, [defensive line coach Sean] Spencer, Coach [James] Franklin. They always make me feel like family up there. I feel like I’m with my second family when I go up there, so it was a great visit.”
He also carries a strong relationship with Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson. The Big Ten veteran, regarded as a Buckeyes recruiting ace, recently disputed speculation that his career could conclude soon.
“That meant a lot,” Smith said. “He told me before he went out in public that he was staying. I mean, I trust his word. I think he’s an honest man. So that meant a lot to me. People say don’t pick schools based off of coaches, but it’s kind of hard because you want the guy to be there when you’re there.”
Smith, considered a top-10 defensive end in composite rankings, is one of two players at the position who will attract attention from Buckeyes and Nittany Lions fans on Thursday. Jayson Oweh also will announce his college choice during the game.
Future???? 👀🔵⚪️🦁 pic.twitter.com/EDWtkjJBc3
— Tyreke Smith™ (@T_23_baller) November 9, 2017