- RELATED: Read why Roquan Smith picked UGA by clicking HERE
Roquan Smith, who committed to UGA on Friday, is making recruiting history as one of the first big-time football prospects to bypass signing at national letter of intent (NLI) on signing day or after.
And when the linebacker from Macon County High School got on the phone with almost all of UGA’s coaching staff to tell them he was coming on Friday morning, Smith got some interesting feedback.
“The UGA coaches were fine with Roquan not signing an NLI — actually one of the coaches said that if their son is good enough, they’re not going to let him sign an NLI either,” Macon County coach Larry Harold told the AJC.
“I’m not going to say which UGA coach it was. You’re going to have to ask them. He was like ‘Coach, if my son is good enough and is in the same position as Roquan, I’m not going to let him sign an NLI. I understand exactly why you’re doing this.’ They get it. So I guess the buzz is going around.”
Smith signed his scholarship or grant-in-aid papers with UGA on Friday, but has famously declined to sign a binding national letter of intent after nearly getting burned by UCLA last week.
Technically, Smith can change his mind about UGA until he attends his first day of summer classes. But his coach said that’s not going to happen.
“He’s 100-percent Georgia Bulldog,” Harold said. “His recruiting is over. It’s finished. He’s ready to move on to the next chapter of his life. His family is ready to move on. It’s just a good day. Everything is finalized. He’s relaxed. Now he can finish out his high school days and report to UGA this summer.’
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is believed to be one of the first big-time football prospects in recruiting history to opt against signing an NLI on signing day or after – which could change the landscape of football recruiting. It has been the talk of the recruiting world over the last 10 days.
After nearly getting burned by UCLA, Smith turned the recruiting world upside down by revealing that he would not sign the NLI, the NCAA document which was called the “worst contract in American sports” by Sports Illustrated this week.
Smith was labeled as “revolutionary” in a Thursday column by CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd, while the Washington Post wrote an article with the headline of “How Roquan Smith might end up empowering future high school football stars.” Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com suggested Smith might be “the Rosa Parks of college football recruits.”
One of Georgia’s top high school coaches was asked about Smith this week, and he mentioned the name of Curt Flood, who is legendary for opening the door for free agency in professional baseball.
Last Wednesday, Smith committed to UCLA over UGA in front of ESPN cameras. But he decided against turning in his NLI after reports surfaced later that day that Bruins defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had accepted a job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Smith said Ulbrich had told him on the eve of signing day that he had “declined” the job offer from the Falcons, per UGASports. On Thursday, Ulbrich (now with the Falcons) declined comment to the AJC about Smith’s claim.