May 1, 2008

Georgia corner picks up ND offer

Show the best plays against the best teams.

In summary, that's how Branden Smith cobbled together his highlight tape, one distributed across the college football landscape. Based on the results, it's hard to argue with the approach. The 5-foot-11, 171-pound cornerback from Atlanta, Ga., has picked up a dozen scholarship offers, including one from Notre Dame this week.

Irish defensive coordinator Corwin Brown visited Washington High School in Atlanta, Ga., on Tuesday to get a closer look at Smith. Recruiters from most of the SEC have stopped by too.

"When I heard about the Notre Dame offer from my coaches I was very surprised and at the same time I was happy," Smith said. "I haven't talked to them yet. I'm going to get to it. I'm going to give the coaches a call and see what's going on."

When Smith speaks with the Notre Dame staff it will be his first real contact with the Irish program. While he's received the stock mailings, the Rivals100 pick said he doesn't know much about Notre Dame other than its recruiting reputation, which included landing the nation's second-ranked class last year.

"They recruit some of the top players and get some of the top players in the draft," Smith said. "I know it's a good school."

Smith can affix similar praise to the rest of his offer list that includes Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Clemson, Alabama and Auburn to name a few. In fact, Smith probably would. When asked if he's forming a list of favorites, Smith said he's considering all the schools interested in him. He also said no school is recruiting him the hardest and that he didn't grow up rooting for a particular program.

"I have interest in everybody, I'm open to everybody," he said. "I grew up liking every school on TV."

Whichever program lands Smith will get a self-described physical corner with big-game flair. Washington nearly knocked off powerful Tucker High School and Jamoris Slaughter last season, falling 21-14 in overtime. Slaughter's squad yielded just seven points combined in its previous six games before running into Washington.

"I really didn't get a lot of balls thrown to my side or a lot of balls thrown to me but I still did real good being physical, playing the way I play," Smith said. "I think I did really good that game. I got three plays from Tucker on my highlight tape. Big plays against good teams definitely gets you recruited faster."

Exactly how Smith makes his plays is rooted in both his talent and his mouth. It turns out the Washington standout may talk as good a game as he plays. He said in a match-up with Stone Mountain last fall that his verbal sparring took a receiver right out of his game.

Smith loved every minute of it.

"Once I found out how to get to him I kept doing it, kept getting to him," Smith said. "He got five balls thrown his way and got no completions.

"I can't play good without talking. If I talk, then I play good."

And in turn pick up national recruiting interest.



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