Five-star in-state offensive tackle Trey Smith chose the Vols over dozens of offers from schools around the country. One of those schools was Tennessee’s biggest rival, Alabama. And despite growing up in Tennessee, Smith wasn’t always a big fan of the Vols.
“It’s funny, I was a big Alabama fan growing up,” Smith said as Tennessee’s five early enrollees met with the media on Thursday afternoon. “A huge fan, actually. But I really made my decision a couple months ago, sat down with my dad and reviewed the facts.
“I visited the university and talked to the coaches enough that I knew this was home. There’s no place like Tennessee.”
Smith, who lived in Jackson, Tennessee and went to University School of Jackson for high school, stated that his transition from Alabama fan to Tennessee commit played out slowly through his recruitment with the Vols. Smith claimed his recruitment “slowly became engulfed in orange” and called it a “baptizing.”
“Most people at my school were Tennessee fans” Smith stated. “So I grew up with that Power T and that orange most of my life.”
Smith’s commitment to Tennessee seemed far from a certainty at the time. The Vols had ended the season on a sour note with a loss to Vanderbilt, and recruiting in the 2017 class had seemed to hit a wall. Smith was viewed as a Tennessee lean for months, but in the weeks leading up to his commitment date, the waters became murkier, and both Ohio State and Alabama made a surge late. The Tide, however, appeared even more determined to snatch one of the top prospects in the state of Tennessee than the Buckeyes.
Alabama made as hard of a push late in Smith’s recruitment as Tennessee did. The Tide sent wide receivers coach Billy Napier to visit Smith the same day Smith visited Tennessee’s campus, and head coach Nick Saban and offensive line coach Brent Key visited Smith the day before he announced his commitment. But despite those late efforts, Smith still chose the Vols over his childhood team.
“It was hard at times, but I saw the light,” Smith said. “A couple months ago I decided I’m 100 percent Tennessee. So I’m good.”