Making the Case: Five-star DT Maason Smith
Five-star defensive tackle Maason Smith has a final five - and there is a significant SEC feel to the list.
USC was cut from the list, which eliminated the possibility of a package deal for Smith and close friend Korey Foreman to play for the Trojans. That possibility is still very much in play at LSU, where Foreman has visited twice and the Tigers could be considered the front-runner for Smith as well.
Based on history alone, LSU has to like its chances. Smith is the top-ranked player in the state of Louisiana and every No. 1 prospect from that state has gone to LSU since Landon Collins in the 2012 recruiting class.
Analysts and publishers from the Rivals network take a closer look at where one of the most sought-after defensive linemen in the country will land.
"Smith has been a top priority target for the Crimson Tide since the beginning stages of his recruitment. Smith grew up an Alabama fan and has taken multiple visits to Tuscaloosa. He also has a great relationship with defensive line coach Freddie Roach who also recruited Smith when he was coaching at Ole Miss.
"Smith hasn’t been back to Tuscaloosa in several months. Alabama remains a top contender on his list of favorites, but it seems like the Tide will need to get him on campus again to have a chance to land his signature. LSU and Georgia appear to have the edge at this time." - Andrew Bone, BamaInsider.com
"The Gators haven't been buzzing in Smith's recruitment as much as some of the additional schools in his top five, but there are several reasons why they've been a mainstay over the past couple of years, starting with UF's coaching staff. Defensive line coach David Turner has been prioritizing Smith from the jump, while the likes of Dan Mullen and Greg Knox have long-standing relationships with him as well.
"Florida is also his father's favorite school. The Gators prioritize Louisiana's best year-in and year-out and previously signed defensive tackle, Jalen Lee, who accompanied Smith during last year's trip to the Swamp. There is a significant amount of familiarity when associating with UF's program, but due to COVID-19, it's been well over a year since Smith stepped foot in Gainesville. That is difficult to look past, especially considering he visited LSU and Georgia in recent weeks. I'm liking the Tigers' chances at keeping the five-star prospect in the Bayou State." - Corey Bender, GatorsTerritory.com
"If he weren't in Louisiana and by proxy frequently at LSU, I'd feel really strongly about Georgia's chances with Smith. They've prioritized him heavily and have kept communication consistent. What's hamstringing them, however, is the lack of face-to-face interaction and ability for an in-person visit.
"He made his way to Athens for the first time at the end of this summer and seemed quite impressed with the offerings, but the familiarity of LSU and the in-state pull is something that can never be discounted. That's even moreso the case in the age of COVID, when we expect players to rely even more heavily on established relationships. The Bulldogs will push to get him back to Athens again before his decision, and that could help to sway things back into their direction somewhat. Still, for now, it's hard to see anywhere but LSU being the pick for a multitude of reasons." - Jake Reuse, UGASports.com
"After talking to multiple sources and following Smith's recruitment closely over the last year, it seems like LSU is the team to beat here. Smith to LSU almost makes too much sense. The Tigers are his in-state team. Head coach Ed Orgeron is a former DL coach and has coached some big-time stars on the DL in the past, such as Dwayne Johnson and Warren Sapp, to name a few. Plus, Orgeron grew up around the same Bayou Region of the state that Smith is from. Smith has been to LSU's campus for games and camps more times than any other university. And LSU is notorious for sending defensive players into the NFL. You add all that up and it's going to be difficult for another to come and pull Smith out of Louisiana." - Julie Boudwin, TigerDetails.com
"Miami has tried to recruit Smith as hard as anybody and Blake Baker has done a great job keeping the Hurricanes in there. But a Miami commit is a long shot even though he really likes the Miami defensive system. It doesn’t look like Maason will ever get to visit Miami. That makes it really tough for the Hurricanes to win here against the SEC schools. But they definitely get an A for effort and if Miami can win the rest of the season, it could become a bigger factor before signing day." - Gary Ferman, CaneSport.com
“This one isn’t as cut and dry as many think, but nothing has swayed me from LSU as of yet. The Tigers don’t lose in-state five-stars very often and they have made him a huge priority. Alabama is always a threat and Georgia has been on his mind, but I’d be surprised if he left the state. He’s all LSU until I hear something to the contrary and I haven’t yet.” — Mike Farrell, National Recruiting Director