Jerod Smith surprised many in the recruiting world when he began to trend towards Michigan last month.
After all, the four-star defensive lineman from Cheshire (Conn.) Academy was considered a Notre Dame lean for a large portion of the process. However, Michigan made a big push for Smith, who eventually picked U-M over the rival Irish.
“I decided to commit to Michigan because I felt like it was the best fit for me — academically, professionally and for football,” Smith said. “They are ranked No. 1 for public schools. My family strives for great academics. They also have the No. 1 business school, so that played a huge part as well.”
Smith made an unofficial visit to Michigan this spring. That trip to Ann Arbor marked a turning point in Smith’s recruitment as he got his first in-depth look at the Michigan program.
“I liked everything about the visit,” Smith said. “They have beautiful facilities and great people. They also have a great city and a great coaching staff. After I made the visit there, I just felt like it was the best fit for me.”
Relationships also played a big role in Smith’s decision.
Michigan defensive line coach Mike Elston led the way in his recruitment and made him feel like a top priority. Elston, who has strong ties to Connecticut’s premier boarding schools, did a tremendous job of bonding with Smith and those around him.
“The relationship with Coach Elston played a huge role in my decision,” Smith said. “He reached out to me and my family all the time. The relationship we built since December grew even stronger during the recruiting process. I also love the way we talk ball.”
Elston envisions Smith, who is ranked as the No. 29 defensive lineman and No. 318 overall prospect nationally, per the On3 Industry Ranking, in the same role as Michigan defensive lineman Kris Jenkins, who had a similar frame coming out of high school.
“They said I’m playing the defensive end to the field,” Smith said. “That does everything from a 4i to a crash nine. From a development standpoint, to make it to the league, being able to play that type of role is huge for me. I love the scheme.”
Smith is the twin brother of four-star EDGE target Jacob Smith, who is set to make his official visit to Michigan on June 2.
With his own decision out of the way, Jerod is now focused on getting Jacob to Ann Arbor with him.
“I tell him all the good about the school,” Smith said. “I don’t try to pressure him. I just tell him about the good and what Michigan can do for both of us. We complement each other well on the field. One of us is always making a play. It would be amazing to have him play with me at Michigan.”
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