Tyler Smith left Tennessee’s campus still committed to North Carolina, yet his determination to sign with the Tar Heels seemed a bit shaken.
When asked if the Vols could overcome North Carolina for his services, Smith said, “I’m not sure.”
That’s at least progress for Tennessee in its recruitment of the 4-star junior receiver. Smith committed to UNC in November, citing early playing time opportunities and the relationship he has with the Tar Heels’ coaches. However, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound prospect said he enjoyed an impressive visit to Knoxville for Tennessee’s junior day on Saturday.
“It was great,” Smith said. “I love how they practice and everything. I love the coaches. I like how it was real upbeat. They call a lot of people out. They did one-on-ones in front of the team. I really enjoyed that. The offense was getting the receivers pumped up. The defense was getting the receivers pumped up. When it was over with, everybody was real cool.”
Smith’s primary recruiter, receivers coach Zach Azzanni, also made a strong impression on the Georgia native.
“He’s a great coach,” Smith said. “I like the way they rotate the receivers a lot during games and things. Before I went down there, I looked him up to see how he coached.”
Smith was prepared for the workout. He said he even worked on a punching bag in hopes of replicating one of Azzanni’s favorite drills in which the coach challenges a receiver to get off the line of scrimmage while holding a blocking pad.
The relationship between the two is a strong point for Tennessee. However, it could become a weakness. Azzanni has been reported to be a candidate for the offensive coordinator position at Maryland. Having Azzanni would be key for Smith if he eventually chose the Vols.
“That would be real important,” he said. “He’s the main person I know. If I did go to Tennessee, he’d be the one that’s coaching me.”
Smith is the No. 25 receiver in the country for 2017 and the No. 28 prospect in Georgia.