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February 22, 2012

Midwest whispers: Irish in position for Smith

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With his brother at Ohio State, four-star linebacker Jaylon Smith was pegged to be an early Buckeye-lean, but that was not the vibe he put out on Monday at the Best of the Midwest Combine. Smith talked about stepping out of his brother's shadow (which he has done) and how he would definitely take into consideration how the Buckeyes handle his brother (Rod Smith was switched to linebacker for a time last fall).

Instead, there seemed to be a very strong Notre Dame vibe with Smith. He is a strong student and specifically mentioned how Notre Dame's offer was a validation of his academic progress. He is attracted to the academic/athletic combination in South Bend and is taking an unofficial visit to that campus next weekend.

But Smith claims to be wide open, and there is definitely a lot of recruiting yet to be done in his process. New offers came in recently from Oklahoma and USC and he is expected to take long, hard looks at both programs. He is also enamored with an offer he received from national champion Alabama. He also was sporting a Michigan State hat at Monday's combine and spent some time talking with class of 2012 Michigan State signee Josiah Price at the event.

Florida State is the latest to offer Smith, coming through with its tender on Tuesday evening. More schools will be added to the list until every team that feels it has the slightest chance has made offers because Smith is undoubtedly a national recruit with the ability to play in any system. That he only holds 18 offers now may actually force his recruitment out longer, with teams continuing to be added throughout the spring and summer. Smith sounds determined to take a long, full look at as many schools as possible.

Michigan State news

Michigan State is hosting a big Junior Day this weekend, and a focus is on bringing in emerging in-state prospects. Among those planning to attend are Michigan Collegiate wide receiver Teo Redding and Detroit Cass Tech safety Delano Hill, who were two of the top performers at Monday's Best of the Midwest Combine in Indianapolis. Other in-state visitors include Chelsea quarterback Nate Bossory, St. Clari Shores South Lake defensive end Jordan Culver, Detroit Crockett cornerback Desmond King and top sophomores Chance Stewart of Sturgis and Deon Drake of Cass Tech.

Another in-state prospect who is considering attending the Spartans' Junior Day is Canton offensive guard Cameron Dillard, who picked up his 17th offer on Tuesday from Florida. Dillard does not yet hold offers from either in-state Big Ten program, but an offer from the Spartans this weekend should make them a strong contender for his services.

Michigan State has gotten off to a strong, early start in-state with commitments from four-star linebacker Jon Reschke and Flint Carman-Ainsworth running back Gerald Holmes, but the state's top talent is coming off the board quickly with eight Great Lakes State prospects already having made commitments, including six of the state's seven four-star recruits. The Spartans do lead for the state's lone uncommitted four-star prospect - Cadillac offensive tackle Riley Norman - who is also likely to be in East Lansing this weekend.

Midwest notes

Rivals250 linebacker Josh Banderas picked up the big offer from his hometown program - Nebraska - last weekend at the Cornhuskers' Junior Day. Banderas' father is a former Husker football player himself, and there is undoubtedly a strong affinity for the program there. But Banderas had planned upcoming junior day visits to Kansas State and Iowa State, and still plans to follow through with those trips. Additionally, Wisconsin, Michigan, USC and UCLA have come in recently with new interest. So, Banderas has not yet made a commitment to the Cornhuskers, but they are certainly the team to beat.

With their eight new additions this past weekend, Michigan is up to 11 commitments already in a class that could see as many as 25 by National Signing Day next year. Four of those eight commitments are offensive linemen, but the Wolverines are not yet done at the position in 2013. Look for them to try and add one more. Among uncommitted Midwest prospects Centerville (Ohio) tackle Evan Lisle, Lemont (Ill.) tackle Ethan Pocic and New Lenox (Ill.) Lincoln Way West's Colin McGovern hold offers from the Wolverines.

The majority of Michigan's focus going forward will be on defensive prospects, with cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle being needs. Look for them to surround four-star quarterback commitment Shane Morris with wide receiver talent as well, with Midwest pass-catchers such as Laquon Treadwell, Jaron Dukes, Kevin Gladney and Rob Wheelwright all being targeted.

Indianapolis (Ind.) North Central four-star lineman Darius Latham added an offer from Florida on Tuesday, after picking up another from Kentucky on Saturday. Florida was active in the Midwest on Tuesday, also extending offers to Cameron Dillard as well as Detroit Country Day defensive tackle/offensive tackle Poet Thomas. The Thomas offer was an interesting one because the 6-6, 295-pound prospect had only picked up one offer previously, and that was from Toledo.

Florida was previously in with offers to Indiana four-star prospects Jaylon Smith and Elijah Daniel. The 6-4, 253-pound Daniel originally is from the South, and made a visit to Gainesville last fall to take in one of the Gators' home games. Earlier this week, Daniel listed Florida as an early favorite for his services, and its recent offers definitely made an impression on the other Midwest targets.

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