And on Thursday afternoon, the Rivals three-star recruit called Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables to tell him of his intent to become a Tiger in January. Smith doesn’t have a Twitter account because he views it as a distraction, so he told Titans assistant coach Paul Troth to tweet it out on the social media network after he spoke to Venables.
“Clemson just felt like home,” Smith said Friday morning after Dominion principal John Brewer gave his weekly seminar to the Titans football team. “When I went down there to their junior day last year, the family atmosphere and the coaching staff welcomed me with open arms as if I was one of their own.”
Smith’s recruitment heightened after a strong showing at the Army All-American Combine, and at the time of his commitment he had 11 offers from Wisconsin, Illinois, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech among others. He was receiving interest from Ohio State and Penn State, but the honesty Venables showed Smith throughout his recruitment compelled him to give his oral commitment Thursday.
Venables told Smith that the 6-foot-4, 215-pound outside linebacker was a priority in the 2015 class and wanted to turn him into one of the best linebackers to don the Clemson jersey, and one of the best in the country.
“They are consistently chasing a national title and one of the top 10 programs in the country,” Smith said. “It was such a unique school and campus that I felt instantly comfortable.”
The first-team All-State linebacker will now shift his focus to the Rivals Camp Series at St. John’s in the District and the Nike Football Training Camp at Centreville April 26.
“Now that I’m committed, I’m out to promote their program to recruits and let my peers know how unique Clemson is compared to these other schools,” Smith said.
He will spend his summer at Northern Virginia Community College studying senior English and U.S. Government before embarking on his final season of Dominion football.
Smith hopes the Titans improve on a 7-5 record last season that ended with a loss to Salem in the second round of the 4A North region playoffs. Smith finished with five interceptions, three blocked field goals, six pass breakups, 72 tackles and three sacks.
“The two things that separate Chad are his instincts and the fact that he’s a gamer,” Dominion Coach Karl Buckwalter said. “He’s knows what’s going to happen before the play develops, and he’s just driven.”