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December 15, 2006With the general consensus that State would sign two high school quarterbacks this year, they appeared to be finished with two early commitments. After continuing to recruit Wesley Carroll, however, that situation appeared to have changed. Things cleared up Thursday when Carroll committed, then coach Croom visited Zach Smith and brought up an interesting comparison. Will Smith be the next John Lynch in the defensive backfield?
"Actually coach Croom was just in my living room 20 minutes ago," Smith commented in an interview late last night. "It went very well." Coach Croom was accompanied by Smith's recruiter, DB coach Melvin Smith.
"Coach Croom is exciting to be around and he thinks I can be a great free safety, so I guess we'll see what I can do at free safety. He said that they know I can play quarterback, but he thinks I can be a great free safety and if he thinks I can be a great free safety, and that's what I have a chance to play at the next level at is free safety.
"He said I remind him a lot on film of John Lynch. He said he knows what John Lynch looked like in high school and in college. He said he played both ways and he would come up and make the tackles and on defense he was the leader. That's one thing that I can be. I know a lot about the game and at free safety I know I am definitely not afraid to come up and hit somebody. I catch on pretty quick and that is one thing I think I have in my corner.
"I love quarterback, but I also love free safety because the two positions are alike and there are differences because you can be a leader at any position, but I think you can definitely be a leader at quarterback. And at free safety that's one of your biggest leaders on the defensive side of the ball because you are always telling people the things they need to be doing and I think it is kind of the captain of the defense."
In addition to that news, Smith also received some other good news recently.
"We had the Mr. Football banquet and I got the 3A back of the year," he said. "I mean Larry Smith won Mr. Football. I had better numbers than him, but he deserved it because he led his team to the state championship. I was happy for him. He's a real good guy."
One concern amongst Bulldog fans has been that as an Alabama native, Smith grew up a Crimson Tide fan, but never got an offer from them. What would happen if a new staff came in that really liked Smith? Would he bolt for the home-state and childhood-favorite school?
"I think everybody got my tape and everybody got a chance to see what I could do and Mississippi State was the only college that came and said we want him to be on our team, so I'm committed to them and I don't think my mind is going to change," he stated. "I'm committed to MSU and I don't know if I am going to get any offers or not, but it is going to take something pretty special to make me change my mind.
"I'm watching it (the Alabama coaching situation), but I'm not really concerned about it. I have what I've always wanted. I wanted to play big-time college football and I think the SEC is it. Coach Croom sat in my living room and he feels I have a chance to play as a freshman at free safety and that's going to be hard to turn down, no matter who offers me.
"One of the reasons I committed there was the kind of guy he is and it is not just about four years, its about people you come into contact with in college and who is coaching you is who you are going to remember for the rest of your life. He's a pretty special guy. Coach Smith is the secondary coach and we have a great relationship. We've been talking for a long time now."
Smith also has a close friend, D.J. Looney, who will be attending State, and that could play a role in the end.
"We became good friends at the all-star game and it is just kind of ironic that we are going to the same college," he said. "I'm looking forward to that, plus I think it is going to be a good time. I look forward to playing for coach Croom and all the assistant coaches and I think Mississippi State is definitely on the rise. They beat Alabama this year and they got beat on a last second field goal by ole Miss and Arkansas was a great game, holding McFadden, who was second in the Heisman, to 60 or 70 yards, so on any given day they can play with anybody.
"Their offense is all coming back next year so they are going to be great next year. We will definitely be in a bowl game next year."
Smith will visit State on Jan. 19, on their biggest day, along with Looney.