BEAVERTON, Ore. – According to John ‘Juju’ Smith there was a strong statement made when he scheduled his official visit to Notre Dame this October. While Irish fans were encourage that the 2014 safety prospect was going to make the trip from California, he suggests it means a whole lot more.
“Notre Dame is really high with me,” Smith said after Monday’s first practice session at The Opening. “For them to be the first official visit that I set in stone is really good. If you’re one of my top offers and I have you as an official visit this early in the season - it’s rare for me to do that. That should tell you how I feel about Notre Dame.”
The Long Beach, Calif. native has checked up on the Irish and likes what a diploma can mean for his life after football, whether that involves playing on Sundays or not.
“It’s a great school that I did my research on,” Smith explained about Notre Dame. “Academics are really good and they graduate about 98 percent of their players. Some go to the NFL, but everyone graduates and gets a degree – they have a life they can provide for their families, which is something I really want to have in the future.”
“The tradition out there is really strong too,” he continued. “That’s another thing I really like about them and want to be a part of.”
Helping pave the way for a possible career in South Bend is Notre Dame assistant coach Mike Denbrock, who the Polytechnic High School star has really grown fond of during the recruiting process.
“Coach Denbrock is a great guy,” Smith stated. “He keeps everything as honest as possible and doesn’t put Notre Dame up too high – he keeps everything on the level. He does what I want to see from all the coaches that recruit me.”
The time for the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder to let the world know where he’s heading next year will probably happen after his season, however the timing could change if he feels the time is right.
“I’m thinking about announcing at the Under-Armour All-America game,” Smith said. “I may do it on signing day as well, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t commit at any time between then and now – it just depends where I’m at in the process and how comfortable I feel.”
He has a list of favorites that exceeds what five official visits will allow, but he plans to make that list a bit more manageable before the fall.
“Right now I like Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan, Ole’ Miss, UCLA, and a little bit of Wisconsin,” Smith explained. “There are a lot of schools I like right now, but I want to narrow that down sometime before my senior season starts.”