Big news on the recruiting trails this afternoon, as Atlanta cornerback Geno Smith has committed to Alabama. Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
St. Pius defensive back Geno Smith committed to Alabama over archrival Auburn on Wednesday
Smith became one of the nation’s most-heavily recruited college prospects with around 40 offers after solid performances against an all-star cast of wide receivers.
We've long since known that this was an Alabama v. Auburn battle for Smith's services, but he was a very tough read prior to his announcement. For months he was clearly just playing the recruiting game, and no one had any definite idea as to where he would end up. Many thought 'Bama was going to get his commitment several weeks ago, but after that passed with no news many were concerned that he was headed to Auburn. With Smith joining the fold now, though, he seems firm in his commitment, saying that he wanted to get the decision out of the way and noting that he planned only on taking an official visit to Alabama.
Give the UA staff a great deal of credit for this one. Smith himself stated publicly two days ago that he almost committed to Auburn earlier this spring, so not only did the 'Bama staff have to go out-of-state to land a heavily-recruited player, they actually had to make up lost ground against Auburn in the wake of their national championship. Clearly the pending departures of DeQuan Menzie and Phelon Jones (and perhaps Dre Kirkpatrick) didn't hurt our chances with him, but having said that Auburn had just as much early playing time to offer as we did, and perhaps even more.
Furthermore, UA continues to have unprecedented success recruiting in the state of Georgia. Nick Saban has routinely gotten quality signees from the Peach State since his arrival in Tuscaloosa, but this recruiting crop looks to far exceed the bounty of anything we've previously attained from the state of Georgia. Geno Smith joins Dillon Lee, Brandon Greene, Justin Taylor, and Kenyan Drake as Georgia products in the 2012 recruiting class, and it does not look like we're done at this point either with Jordan Jenkins and others still on the horizon.
Exactly where Smith will fit in on the depth chart when finally arriving in Tuscaloosa remains to be seen, but the prospects of early playing time may be better than you would initially expect. As previously mentioned, 'Bama will lose at least two and perhaps as many as three corners this season, and given the proliferation of the spread offense in the SEC, significant depth at cornerback is now a necessity. Smith likely won't win a starting job right away like DeMarcus Milliner did a year ago, but if he lives up to his recruiting billing it won't take long for him to see the field in Tuscaloosa as a meaningful contributor.
Smith becomes the 17th commitment of the 2012 recruiting class.