Growing up, Shannon Smith was a quarterback.
His brother Steve Dolphus, who was three years younger, wanted nothing to do with that.
“I was the guy that always was just wanting the ball,” Dolphus told the AJC. “He was the quarterback. When we was in rec, when we played rec league football he was a quarterback. I was actually a tight end and a lineman.”
Dolphus is now a 3-star receiver and a Georgia Tech target. The 6-foot-5, 200 pounder out of Westside High School in Macon is rated the 54th best prospect in Georgia and is a top 100 receiver nationally. He boasts offers from 16 schools including Florida, Louisville, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss, as well as the Yellow Jackets.
Smith is also a 3-star receiver who could be looking to join his brother at Georgia Tech. Smith was less-highly recruited three years ago when he graduated from Westside and ultimately attended Middle Tennessee State. After two seasons, Smith decided to go the JUCO route for 2015 at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and will look to improve his stock for his final two years of college.
Although Dolphus is the more highly regarded prospect, the chances of him attending Georgia Tech may rest on the shoulders of his brother.
“It means a lot to us to play together,” Smith said. “Even if I have to go somewhere he plays. I’ll do that. But it means a lot to us, to my mom to get to the games and try to stress and get to both of our games.”
While Dolphus said that playing with his brother wasn’t the only factor, he also emphasized the importance in his decision making process and said that he “couldn’t even explain” what it would mean for the two to be teammates. His brother said that he believes Dolphus would take a lesser offer, being a non-Power 5 school, in order for the duo to play together.
Currently Smith sits without an official offer from the Yellow Jackets. However, that does not preclude him from attending Georgia Tech. Smith and Dolphus are currently waiting to hear back from the school about Smith’s transcript.
If everything checks out there, Smith said that Georgia Tech would be one of his top choices. However, he also listed Arkansas State, Troy and Pitt among his leaders. Dolphus also has offers from Arkansas State and Troy.
What about Dolphus? He’s not mentioning any favorites. But his brother did — saying Georgia Tech was one of Steve’s favorites, along with Florida, Central Florida, and Arkansas State. He also reports offers from Louisville, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss.
This could have been concerning for Georgia Tech when the older brother committed to Arkansas State on July 19, especially considering that Dolphus said that he “loved” Arkansas State. However, Smith told the AJC on Thursday that he had opted to decommit from the school earlier that day.
“I just wanted to be patient in my process,” Smith said. “My heart was telling me just be a little bit more patient and look more into it. So it’s just why I made a decision to decommit.”
This leaves the door open for Tech while Smith awaits word on his ability to play at the school. The Yellow Jackets are very much still in the hunt. Both recruits took a visit earlier in the summer to see Georgia Tech and meet with the coaching staff and they left impressed with what they saw.
“It was a great visit,” Smith said. “I know it’s a great school. I love the coaches when I went up there and it was really close to home. I’ve been to Atlanta a lot. I’m really familiar with it. It’s really like being at home.”
This isn’t a unique aspect of their recruitment process, either. They’ve been on several visits together, including Arkansas State, and they plan to try to visit Central Florida later in the fall and plan to announce their commitment together, although they don’t have a set date for that. Smith said it could wait until National Signing Day.
Having already been through the song-and-dance once, Smith has acted as a valuable mentor to Dolphus as he tries to pick the right school.
“We talk about it almost every day,” Smith said. “I just tell him to be patient and to look more into stuff because I’ve done been through it so I kind of let him know how stuff goes and how the recruiting process goes. He’s a little bit more relaxed than I was in high school.”
One of the points Smith has pushed the most is for Dolphus to look past just the prestige of a school and understand that “it might not be what it seems like just from him looking at it.”
And this is where the one big “but” comes in for Paul Johnson as he tries to lure in Dolphus. Because Dolphus hasn’t changed all that much from the rec football player catching passes from his brother.
He still wants the ball.
“All wide receivers want to catch the ball,” Dolphus said. “It’s kind of, it made me think more. Like, is that really where I want to be? They (Tech) mostly run the ball, you know. It’s just the thinking process. I mean, it don’t just, it don’t just put them out, kick them out of the picture but it makes me think more.”
While Georgia Tech’s triple option could hurt its chances, Dolphus was quick to point out that Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson, two of the best receivers in the NFL, both came through Georgia Tech. “They can do it, I can do it too,” he added.
And that’s where the parallels between Dolphus and Smith are the most evident. Their boldness might be what makes it work with Georgia Tech.
“Even if they throw the ball five times a game, I feel like those five times will be to us,” Smith said.
By Cody Pace, Special for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution