Maason Smith, the nation’s No. 1 player, is staying home.
Smith, a defensive tackle from Terrebonne in Houma, Louisiana, announced his commitment to LSU on Wednesday. Smith, rated as the top prospect in the class of 2021 by Rivals.com, chose the in-state Tigers over other finalists Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Miami.
In an interview with Rivals.com’s Sam Spiegelman, Smith cited his relationship with head coach Ed Orgeron as one of the main reasons he chose LSU. Smith is now the second No. 1 player to choose LSU in the past three cycles, joining cornerback Derek Stingley, the top player in the class of 2019.
“There are other coaches at other big-time schools, but no other coach is from where I’m from,” Smith said. “He’s from LaRose, La. — that’s 20 minutes from my house. I have friends at (Orgeron’s alma mater) South LaFourche. I have great friends at South LaFourche, and he knows exactly what goes around around here in the Bayou region, how people talk around here and that makes me feel like home. It makes it letter better with home knowing how to be a real Bayou boy. That’s the advantage he had with me.”
What makes Smith so special as a prospect? Rivals.com broke down his game:
Where Smith distinguishes himself as an interior defensive lineman is his relentless motor for a 300-plus-pounder paired with overwhelming power and a long-enough wingspan to impact plays even when they don’t result in a sack or a tackle. He’s capable of taking on multiple blockers, consistently, and still able to shed them quickly enough to make the tackle.
Smith is a havoc-causer in the backfield thanks in part to his explosiveness off the line and his quickness to penetrate the backfield and make plays behind the line. For a 300-pounder, Smith is able to hustle up and down the line of scrimmage whether it’s in pass-rush pursuit or chasing down ball-carriers. Even battling with multiple blockers tasked with containing him, Smith proves to be too powerful, too agile and too motivated to keep out of the backfield.
The 6-foot-5, 297-pound Smith is the fourth prospect to commit and sign with LSU on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period for the 2021 class. Smith joins four-star defensive back Damarius McGhee, four-star receiver Malik Nabers and three-star junior college linebacker Navonteque Strong in LSU’s class.
It’s a class that is rocketing up the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings. Before Smith’s announcement, LSU’s class sat at No. 5 nationally behind Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia and Oregon. Now the Tigers are up to No. 3, having moved past Georgia and Oregon.
Landing Smith is a heck of a boost for Orgeron’s program. The Tigers won the national championship in 2019 but have struggled in 2020. Last week’s upset over Florida was by far the highlight of LSU’s season, but it improved the team’s record to just 4-5.
A win over Ole Miss on Saturday can get the Tigers to .500 for the year and give the program some added momentum heading into the offseason. LSU won’t play in a bowl game this season. The school self-imposed a one-year bowl ban, among other sanctions, as part of an ongoing NCAA infractions case.
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