NEW ORLEANS — Saturday marked a significant juncture in DeVonta Smith’s recruitment.
Of course, the 4-star Amite (La.) High wide receiver helped his team advance to the Louisiana Class 3A state championship, one of the blue-chip LSU target’s goals for the past two years.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association held Amite out of the state semifinals in 2015 after a brawl ensued at the end of the quarterfinals game, keeping Smith from reaching the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as a junior. It’s no wonder he entered the title game Saturday more focused on the task at hand than his recruitment.
“It felt like a regular old Friday night, playing my last game with my teammates and my brothers,” Smith told SEC Country. “It’s the only thing I have on my mind — the unfinished business and what they took away from us last year.
“I haven’t thought about it (my decision) at all. I’ve been locked in on the game and I have been since the beginning of the season. The focus has been on my season.”
Smith capitalized in the big moment, too.
The U.S. Army All-American hauled in 8 passes for 111 yards and also nabbed an interception in the championship game. Smith found the end zone on a 93-yard kickoff return en route to being named his team’s Most Outstanding Player.
But now Smith is about to shift his focus over to the elephant in the room.
LSU, Alabama, Miami, TCU and Oklahoma remain major players in the 6-foot-1, 160-pounder’s decision. At least those are the programs that communicated with Smith throughout his senior season, but gave him space while he devoted most of his time to his team.
“I haven’t been talking a lot … just a little,” Smith explained. “I told coaches I wanted to focus on my season and they understood. It felt good and it let me know that they understand where I’m coming from and it’s not all about them.”
Smith, Louisiana’s top-ranked receiver, still plans on making a decision on National Signing Day. He has plans to officially visit both Alabama and Miami … for now.
LSU also could host Smith, but that has not yet been scheduled.
The Tigers have quietly gained steam with the elite wideout thanks to the promotion of Ed Orgeron and the new offense on the way in Baton Rouge. Smith made an unofficial visit to LSU along with his mother and little brother, Christian, for the Ole Miss game, the first time his entire family was on campus. He returned a few weeks later, taking in a practice along with 5-star linebacker Dylan Moses during Thanksgiving break.
“I like Coach O and I believed he deserved that job,” Smith stated. “It’s just the man that he is. … He’s a man of his word and a great man to be around.”
Wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig is among the coaches who allowed Smith some space during his senior season, but has been pitching a familiar message to the blue-chip prospect throughout the fall.
That message: early playing time. LSU will lose senior Travin Dural and possibly juniors Malachi Dupre and D.J. Chark. With a more dynamic offense ahead, making an early impact is something the U.S. Army All-American is looking for.
“I can come in and play and have a big-time role as a true freshman,” Smith said. “Really, I feel I can go in anywhere and play as a true freshman, and LSU is a great place to be. But only God knows …”
Smith also mentioned education among the most important factors in his decision. He plans on majoring in sports management.
He also noted that LSU, Alabama, Miami, TCU and Oklahoma have made him feel like a priority. LSU has only one other wide receiver commit — 4-star Mannie Netherly. Alabama, Miami and Oklahoma each have two, and TCU has three.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
Follow Sam Spiegelman for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tiger Stadium.