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April 21, 2009A recent article on Rivals.com caused quite a stir among Bearcat football fans regarding the status of Alex Smith's verbal commitment to the University of Cincinnati. The Lakota West tight end spoke to Bearcat Lair on Tuesday afternoon about the story and his unofficial visit to Lexington, Kentucky last weekend.
"Maybe agreeing to do the story was a bad idea, but it had only bits and pieces of what I said. He pretty much only wrote about the positives I said about UK. I'm not going to lie. I saw things I liked, but I would have preferred he emphasized the reason I was on the visit. And he never included when I said UC was my rock, and that I am still very solid with my commitment to UC." said Smith.
The four star tight end further explained the reason for his visit to UK last weekend.
"Kentucky is where my family is, and I've been there before. But I was going to visit a friend, and Coach Phillips wanted me to stop by. I gave him that, and my mom just wanted me to make sure UC is the right place for me." Smith said he has no other unofficial visits planned but did mention that Tennessee in particular has been aggressively pursuing him with phone calls and e-mails.
The recruiting process can be a complicated ordeal, and the local star says he's just trying to be as prepared as possible. "If anything was to go wrong and Coach Kelly was to leave Cincinnati, I want to have some kind of back-up plan."
Several members of Smith's family have suggested that the third year UC head coach will soon be wooed away from the Queen City for another head coaching position. "A lot of my family are diehard UK fans," Smith said. "And they wanted me to check it (Kentucky) out. Many of them are saying Coach Kelly will leave and really likes Notre Dame."
Of course, there are no guarantees that any coach will remain at a school for any length of time, but Brian Kelly apparently gave Smith some assurances prior to his making a verbal commitment to the Bearcats. Alex explained.
"Coach Kelly did tell me that UC was where he wanted to be. That's where he wants to keep his family. One time my mom and me got to meet his family, and he (Coach Kelly) said, 'Yeah, I could leave Cincinnati, but my wife told me she and the kids would be staying.'"
Smith likened his unofficial visit to Kentucky to UC's recruitment of other tight ends. "UC has a back-up plan by recruiting other tight ends. I just want a back-up plan too."
Since Smith's verbal commitment to the Bearcats, Cincinnati has extended an offer to Elder's stand-out tight end Alex Welch, but the Lakota West junior says he understands the reasoning. "I don't mind the competition at all. Who wouldn't want me and Alex Welch on the same team, but it did bother my mom."
Although Welch is an excellent tight end and could play the position at Cincinnati, the Bearcats are recruiting him as a "big skill" player. Smith knows good tight ends are versatile enough to project at a number of positions in college including defensive end or linebacker. "Cincinnati wants more players like Conner Barwin. They want players in the 6' 4" range and versatile. Those guys are often tight ends."
Smith verbally committed to the Bearcats two months ago (February 21) and has been actively trying to add other quality recruits to his class. Jorian Hudson of Roger Bacon and Arryn Chenault from Fairfield followed Smith's lead by verbally committing to the Bearcats, and both were quick to call their friend when they heard about the visit to UK.
"I told them both that the visit to UK would have never happened if I hadn't already planned to visit my friend," said Smith. "If he hadn't been going there for a visit, I don't think my being there would have happened at all."
When asked if he had any interest in reopening his recruitment, Smith replied. "The schools I mentioned in that story are back-ups if anything were to go astray with Coach Kelly. What else is there to worry about? Everything else I love about UC."
Smith was then given a chance to add a final comment. "I wasn't going to lie to that reporter. UK is a great place, and I grew up around Lexington. But after making that visit, I'm more positive than I ever was about my commitment to UC."
Although Alex Smith said he would like to attend Cincinnati's spring game this Saturday night, he will be attending his junior prom instead.