MARIETTA - Walton defensive back D.J. Smith has always felt like he has a lot of talent, and felt like he was one of the best players on the field at any given time.
His emergence as one of the top defensive backs in the country for 2014, however, is something that has come as a complete surprise to the rising junior.
Smith will be the first to tell you that he never expected this type of attention.
"I have offers from Vanderbilt, Michigan State, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Nebraska, South Carolina, and I think there is one more right now," said Smith. "I've been really surprised by all the offers since it is just so early. I mean, I am just really surprised by the offers honestly."
Most schools that have offered Smith, who stands at 6-f00t and 180 pounds, want him at cornerback, but he will see action on both sides of the ball in his junior year at Walton.
Even at 16 years old, Smith has a keen understanding of his strengths and weaknesses as a player.
"I'm mainly a cornerback, but I'll be playing some offense this year, so I'm excited about that," he said. "As a cornerback I have trouble playing back. I have trouble playing off receivers because I need to work on my break. I can press pretty good though because I have long arms. It is easier for me because I can just put my arm out and I'm already on the receiver and can use that to help me get into his route."
At this point in his recruitment, Smith has already grabbed five SEC offers, and he considers that a good thing due to the fact that he grew up rooting for an SEC east power.
"Growing up, I was a Florida fan. My dad and I would watch all the Florida games," said Smith. "I know about the SEC teams though, but they are the team I know the most about."
Having grown up in Marietta, Smith has also gotten to know a lot about another, more local SEC east team as well.
"I'm familiar with Georgia too. I know there are a lot of Georgia fans around here," laughed Smith. "I know Bull (Brandon Kublanow) loves some Georgia, and we have some coaches and teachers around here that are Georgia guys too. I went to a Georgia game last year and it was the South Carolina game. I just remember they had a couple of good cornerbacks, but I'm not sure about their names because I'm not a big Georgia fan. I liked the head coach, Coach (Mark) Richt though, he was cool."
Despite growing up a fan of one SEC team, and being close in proximity to another, Smith insists that his preconceived notions of the teams that have offered him will not play a factor in his recruitment.
"I mean, I liked Florida growing up and Georgia is close, but none of that is going to matter really," said Smith. "I like all the teams that have offered me and I'm going to look at all of them hard."
With his Walton Raiders preparing to take the next step after finishing 14-1 and GHSA class AAAAA State Runners up, Smith has plans for this summer that pertain to his team, and his recruitment.
"We are working hard to get better and be ready for the season," said Smith. "That is the big thing. Right now, I'm also trying to figure out what camps I'm going to attend this summer too. I know I'll be going to the ones at Georgia, Florida, and probably South Carolina, too."
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