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Could Tennessee Have Landed Geno Smith?

Alabama landed a highly-touted recruit last August when cornerback Geno Smith from St. Pius X High School in Atlanta committed to the Crimson Tide.

Smith, who signed with Alabama in February, chose the Tide over such schools as Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas and Southern California.

Alabama should be thankful it didn’t have to beat out Tennessee for Smith’s services. That’s because in a Q&A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smith revealed a secret about his recruitment.

“I really liked Tennessee,” Smith said. “All my junior year, I would come home and play ‘Rocky Top’ on YouTube and then hit repeat.”

That kind of interest could have given Tennessee an advantage in its recruitment of Smith. That’s why he told the AJC his biggest disappointment from the recruiting process was the lack of communication from the Vols.

“A coaching change happened with whomever recruited my area during my junior year,” Smith said. “I didn’t know who was recruiting me until later that spring. By that time, I was like, ‘OK, we’re going to shift it to Alabama and Auburn.’”

The coaching change Smith referenced involved former defensive line coach Chuck Smith, who left Derek Dooley’s staff following the 2010 season. It’s unclear who on the staff was responsible for recruiting Smith during the spring of his junior year.

It’s puzzling why Tennessee would be slow to recruit Smith, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 2 cornerback and 31st overall prospect in the 2012 class by ESPNU. Atlanta, which is less than a four-hour drive from Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, is also a city of focus in recruiting for the Vols.

It’s possible Smith wasn’t ranked as highly on Tennessee’s board as most other schools, although that would be surprising. There’s also no guarantee Smith would have signed with the Vols even if they had begun to recruit him earlier in the process.

But there’s a reason Smith was disappointed in the slow recruitment from Tennessee. Vols fans will likely join him in that frustration.

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Former UT Coach Smith Rants About His Departure From Knoxville

Well, former Tennessee defensive line coach Chuck Smith just had his day in the sun… but it’s hard to imagine much positive light falling on him after his morning press conference.

According to radio host Jimmy Hyams of WNML-FM/AM in Knoxville, Smith covered a number of topics during his presser and afterwards… which we’ll summarize for you:

* Smith wanted Tennessee fans and media to know that he remains a “Vol for life” and did not quit on the UT program.

* He said that “family” isn’t important at UT and that he was driven away because he was “too big for the program.” 

* In an odd twist, he then compared himself to Lane Kiffin saying that once a person puts on the “T” logo, he’s a “Vol for life.”  Not sure that making a pro-Kiffin comment is the best way to go in the Volunteer State these days.

* He denied rumors that he and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox ever came to blows…

* But when it came to praising his co-workers, he did have good things to say about UT’s offensive assistants and Derek Dooley.  His defensive mates were noticeably omitted.

* He also said that his defensive line was the “MVP” of the team over the Vols’ last four games.

* At one point, Smith said he would like to be a season-ticket holder at Tennessee… and then said he’d like to coach elsewhere in the SEC East.  Maybe it’s a love/hate thing. 

Smith might find it hard landing another job in the SEC East — or elsewhere — after the press conference that he called without UT’s knowledge.

His exit for Tennessee isn’t likely to serve as an entrance to anyplace else.


UPDATE — Want to watch the odd press conference?  Click here.

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