Smith lands in Chapel Hill after long, strange trip


Lakota West tight end Alex Smith has opted for Carolina Blue

West Chester Lakota West tight end Alex Smith announced Tuesday morning in a teleconference his decision to attend North Carolina having previously committed to Cincinnati last February.

We were on hand and have more from Smith’s announcement.

WEST CHESTER – For Alex Smith, the road to Chapel Hill took
a detour through Cincinnati.

The West Chester Lakota West tight end announced Tuesday
morning in a teleconference his decision to attend North Carolina having
previously committed to Cincinnati last February.

“After being through this long, delayed-out recruiting
process, I think the best thing for me – and my mom agrees – that it is going to
be the University of North Carolina,” Smith said with his mom Darlene Smith and
Lakota West head coach Larry Cox by his side..

“I know this is right for me. I’m kind of glad I am done
with the recruiting process but this is a very, very solid decision. This is
where I want to be at and the program I want to be in.”

Smith and Lakota West teammate Kevin Schloemer committed to
Cincinnati after a basketball game against Louisville last winter but Smith
second-guessed his decision after the verbal.

“It kind of came down to how they run the spread offense,”
Smith said of Cincinnati. “I want good things for them still. It just wasn’t
completely right for me and with the other schools looking at me I wanted to be
sure it was right.”

The likelihood of head coach Brian Kelly leaving Cincinnati
as early as at the end of this season – potentially to Notre Dame if the rumor
mill is correct – was another reason Smith became lukewarm on the Bearcats,
according to his mom.

“I think that was a big thing with Alex, too. There was
always a question if (Kelly) was going to be there,” she said. “That was always
on the forefront of his mind. So, he’s made a great decision.

“It’s so wonderful.”

Her son thinks so, too.

“Chapel Hill is a great area. It is an up-and-coming
program and the coaching staff is terrific,” he said.

Smith was recruited by tight ends coach and former
four-year letterwinner at UNC Allen Mogridge and he is equally excited about
playing under former NFL head coach Butch Davis.

“(Mogridge and I) developed a really good bond. He’s got
the same attitude with you all the time and Coach Davis is a great guy,” he
said. “He sat down with me and my mom and we had these long talks and it didn’t
even have to be about football. So, that really clicked.

“I think he is there to win championships saying that is
where the program is going. I want to win and do (well) at whatever school I am
at and I really think at North Carolina I can do that.”

And Smith is enthusiastic about attending one of the top
academic institutions in the country to possibly study business or journalism.

“You have to look at academics, too, and academically
everything is there,” he said.

Smith knew he was ready to commit to UNC after his visit on
Nov. 14 for a Tar Heels 33-24 win over Miami.

“When they ran out of the tunnel and with the atmosphere,
you just have that feeling where all of a sudden everything just clicks,” he
said. “After being on all these visits and kind of being unsure – that was the
(surest) moment I had. It felt like home and where I can see myself for years to

It wasn’t the first trip to UNC for Smith but the official was the icing on the cake.

“I think it is the right decision for him,” Cox said. “He
called me on his visit and he said that he really felt like he could fit there
and walk the campus and really be a part of something. I could feel the
confidence in his voice and you get to a point that you know that the fit is
right and I tell the kids that you always know it when you get to that point.

“I couldn’t be happier for him. I know he is going to a
great school and a great program.”

For Cox, Smith is one of the best players he has ever

“In my 23 years coaching football, he is the best tight end
I have ever been around. It is not even close. I think the sky is the limit for
him,” he said.

Ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the state for the 2010
class by Ohio High magazine, Smith had 23 catches for 411 yards and four
touchdowns in eight games for the Firebirds this fall earning first team
All-Greater Miami Conference honors and Southwest All-District Honorable Mention

Lakota West (9-2) finished the season in the Division I,
Region 4 Quarterfinals losing to Cincinnati Anderson 24-21 last month.

With his high school football career in the books, Smith is
focused on his senior basketball season now that he has made his college

“I just think this is right for me and it really clicked on
my last visit,” he said. “It is a lot of pressure off me and off my family now
that we have this decision made. I think they are all real happy for me.”

There is no question about that.

“I am so proud of you,” the elder Smith said to her son
after the teleconference.


Alex Smith is one of the top players in Lakota West’s
13-year program history

Smith and his mom, Darlene, are looking forward to
future days as Tar Heels

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