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December 30, 2008
Smith gears up for Sunday announcement
MORE: Under Armour stars arrive | UA rosters | Army AA Bowl coverage | More all-star coverage
ORLANDO - On Sunday, 80 of the nation's best players will take the field at Orlando's Citrus Bowl for the Under Armour All-America Game.
Atlanta (Ga.) Washington five-star cornerback Branden Smith is one of the game's headliners that arrived on Tuesday.
"It is a good experience," Smith said of the Under Armour game. "Playing with some of the best players in the nation and getting a chance to compete against them, it is a good experience. You cannot get any better than this."
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound defensive back will use the game as his stage to make his much anticipated college choice.
"I will be making my decision at the game on Sunday in the fourth quarter," Smith said. "I should be the last one to make my decision, just saving the best for last."
Smith narrowed his list to four schools over the past couple months - Georgia, Alabama, Florida State, and Florida - and has taken official visits. He talked a bit about each of his finalists.
Georgia: "Mark Richt, Coach Richt, is a good coach. He is a good leader. I love the program, the academics, and the staff. You really can't say anymore."
Alabama: "Coach Saban is a real good coach and their head defensive backs coach. With me being a defensive back, that is a good process right there. I feel a good connection with them."
Florida State: "I like the atmosphere there, the coaching and the players. They had a little downfall over the past few seasons but their recruiting classes are getting better and better every year. They just won their bowl game, I was looking at it. Florida State is a good school and they are getting better and better every year."
Florida: "Just seeing what they did to Alabama. It was a good game, I wasn't going for anybody because I like both teams because they are both recruiting me. Florida is a real good program. When I went down there for my official visit it was alive, the fans were rocking the stadium. The atmosphere is a good thing down there."
Smith denied rumors that he has a leader at this point in the process.
"Everybody is the same," Smith said. "Everybody has worked really hard to get me to their school and doing everything possible to get me up to there school. There is no favorite."
The criteria that he intends to use to formulate his decision are the coaches, players, and academics associated with each university. The only issue is that Smith doesn't see much of a difference among the four schools.
"It is going to be about the coaching but I get along with all of the coaches. I get along with all of the players. When it comes to academics, the four schools I have all have good academic programs," Smith said. "I am just going to go with my heart. I can't go wrong with what school I pick because all four of the schools are good. I can't go wrong."
While a month will remain before signing day after he makes his decision, don't look for Smith to get cold feet and have second thoughts.
"When I commit that is it. When I announce, I will be sure about where I am going. I won't need to give it any more thought."
Smith is the No. 31 player in the 2009 class and fourth ranked cornerback overall.