Smith Still Planning To Visit ND

February 23, 2017

Tyreke Smith wasn’t able to make it to Notre Dame’s Junior Day earlier this month, but the elite 2018 Ohio defensive lineman will be back in South Bend at some point and probably soon, according to Cleveland Heights High School head coach Mac Stephens.

The Irish hosted the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder for an unofficial visit last fall and getting him back on campus would be huge given his profile.

Smith (pictured above in gray t-shirt) has dozens of offers from schools like Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, USC, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma among several others.

It’s the package Smith brings on and off the field that has caught the attention of so many, according to his coach.

“He has an unusual combination of size and speed for a guy his age,” said Stephens. “I think he’s 6-4, 260 right now. He can run with a lot of our skill guys. I believe he has a 3.8 GPA. He comes from a solid family, no behavior issues. When you combine all of those things, that’s what makes him a national prospect.”

Smith grew up a basketball player.

“He’s still playing basketball,” Stephens explained. “He’s a good basketball player, but in my opinion, he’s definitely a much better football player.”

The coach said he knew Smith’s future was on the gridiron and not the hardwood.

“I first laid eyes on Tyreke when he was a freshman, me and one of my assistant coaches,” he recalled. “He was getting a lot of attention for basketball back then as a freshman, but he just has a football body. The crazy thing is he’s still growing. I believe he’s only 16 years old. At 6-4, 260 and he’s still a puppy so to speak.

“He has another brother who we tried to get to play. His brother was a very good basketball player as well. Tyreke didn’t play his ninth or 10th-grade year, but his junior year, he decided to come out. My offensive coordinator stayed in touch with Tyreke and eventually, he decided he’d like to give it a try and the rest is history.”

Smith’s basketball background has helped him in football in some areas.

“One of the things that really stands out in my opinion is that he’s just so explosive,” said Stephens. “He has great feet, great hands, although from a football standpoint, we want to improve both of those areas. From a naturally athletic standpoint, he’s got quick feet, good coordination with his hands and everything. That’s what makes him more difficult to block than your average high school player.”

Despite all of the attention that comes with becoming a true national prospect, Smith has managed to stay grounded.

“He’s handled quite well and I have to give his parents credit. They have a very grounded family. Even though Tyreke has gotten a lot of attention from a football standpoint, they keep the pressure on and I keep the pressure on to make sure he continues to excel academically and socially. He’s handled it quite well. He’s very level-headed. You’d never know just from being around him that he’s being recruited as heavily as he is.”

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