Recruit: Pruitt “Definitely Turning the Program Around” at UT

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    (Photo via Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader)

    Three-star athlete Reese Smith was offered by the Vols back in mid-September. In an a recent interview, he told me that he will be in attendance for this weekend’s game against Kentucky.

    Smith, a 2020 athlete/wide receiver, plays for Boyle High School in Danville, Kentucky. He’s currently rated as the No. 617 overall player in the 2020 class according to 247Sports.

    Tennessee was Smith’s first SEC offer, and Kentucky followed that up with an offer of their own the very next week. Troy, Cincinnati, and Ball State are the other FBS programs that have offered him at this point, though Louisville, Duke, and Northwestern have been showing a lot of interest.

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    For Smith, getting an offer from an SEC school was huge, and he definitely wants to play for a Power Five program in college.

    “I definitely want to play to play Power Five football, and the SEC, in my mind, is the toughest conference,” Smith said, “to get my first (SEC) offer was definitely a huge blessing for me.”

    Growing up a Kentucky fan, an offer from the Wildcats was special to him. But Smith understands the difference between being a fan and a recruit, and his recruitment is still wide open.

    He explained that once you start getting Power Five offers, it changes things, but Kentucky is still a special place to him. He did reiterate, however, that his recruitment is “wide open,” and there is “no favorite” for him at this time.

    Smith is currently listed as an athlete by Rivals and a wide receiver by 247Sports. The position he plays at the next level, though, will depend on the school. Smith said that Kentucky is recruiting him as a safety while Cincinnati is recruiting him as a slot receiver. For Tennessee, they are still just recruiting him as an athlete. The position he plays at the next level isn’t of big concern to him because he likes playing on both sides of the ball.

    The 5-foot-11, 175-pound athlete’s relationship with the Tennessee coaching staff is a good one, and he’s talking to UT’s coaches on a weekly basis.

    “I stay in touch with coach (Brandon) Deaderick (a quality control analyst for UT) or coach (Tyson) Helton (the Vols’ offensive coordinator) weekly,” Smith explained. “I hear from either one of them usually every week.”

    His impressions of Tennessee and the program as a whole are very positive, and he really likes both Knoxville and Jeremy Pruitt.

    “It’s awesome. They eat sleep and breathe football down there, you gotta love it,” Smith said. “It’s a football atmosphere. The fans definitely love football. It’s a big stadium, and I think coach Pruitt is definitely turning the program around down there.”

    Smith is a teammate of four-star 2020 running back Landen Bartleson, who the Vols also offered in September. The two are good friends and have both benefited from each other’s recruitment. While Smith noted that the two have causally discussed playing at the same school at the next level, right now they’re just focused on their high school team.

    The Kentucky native explained that there are several factors most important to him when considering schools. Smith emphasized the importance of academics, as well as being comfortable with the campus. He said he wants to feel comfortable with the coaches and wants to be a part of a program with a good football team. He added that the opportunity for early playing time is also important to him.

    As a junior, Smith has caught 39 passes for 829 yards and 12 touchdowns for Boyle County according to MaxPreps. He also has 34 tackles, two interceptions, 11 passes defended, a forced fumble, and an interception returned for a score this season. In his high school career so far, Smith has 125 receptions for 2,531 yards and 36 touchdowns in 34 career games. On defense, he’s totaled 128 tackles, two tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, and an incredible 18 interceptions to go along with 28 passes defended. He’s returned three interceptions for touchdowns as well.