With L’Christian ‘Blue” Smith’s commitment date fast approaching, those fans who follow UK’s football recruiting efforts are hanging on every development related to the Wildcats’ pursuit of the highly touted wide receiver.
Smith — a 6-foot-6, 205-pound prospect from Dayton, Ohio — is UK’s top remaining target in the 2018 class. He would be one of the Cats’ most highly touted commitments in recent years if he picks Kentucky later this month, but Ohio State is the main competition in his recruitment, and momentum appears to be on the Buckeyes’ side.
Over the weekend, Scout.com recruiting insider Bill Greene interviewed Smith and promptly made a Crystal Ball prediction in favor of the Buckeyes, seemingly another sign that UK’s top target might be bound for Columbus.
Greene told the Herald-Leader on Monday morning that his pick was more gut feeling than anything else.
“He told me nothing, and his dad told me nothing,” Greene said. “So I got no inside info there. I just feel like he bonded with Coach (Urban) Meyer. Blue wants to be a wide receiver. He sees himself as a wide receiver, so nobody should recruit him as a tight end. But I think he’s sharp enough to know if somebody is feeding him a line. So I thought the Meyer explanation was pretty sound. I always try to put myself in the dad’s spot or the kid’s spot, and that didn’t sound like somebody that was feeding me a line.”
Throughout Smith’s recruitment, there have been conflicting vibes out of OSU’s camp over whether that program sees him as more of a wide receiver or tight end. As Greene said, Smith has been clear that he wants to be a wide receiver at the next level. UK, the first school to offer him a scholarship, has been clear that he would be a wide receiver in Lexington.
Meyer has been less clear, but Greene said the OSU coach’s most recent explanation might have “resonated” with Smith, who plans to commit to a school the weekend of Aug. 25.
In a nutshell, Meyer told Smith that his position at the next level will depend on how his body continues to mature. If he sticks around 205 pounds, his current weight, then he’ll be a wide receiver. If he continues to get bigger and ends up in the 230-235 range, he’d probably be playing tight end for the Buckeyes.
“A lot is going to depend on where his body takes him over the next two or three years,” Greene said. “But I’ve always seen him as a wideout. A big, physical wide receiver that can make tough catches, red-zone catches, stuff like that.”
Scout.com ranks Smith as the No. 142 recruiting nationally in the 2018 class. He’s ranked as high as No. 31 nationally — by Rivals.com — and all four of the major recruiting services put him in the Top 200 in the class.
“He has great hands,” Greene said. “Tremendous basketball player, so he knows how to position his body. He can jump up and over people. Great route-runner. He is not a 4.4, not even a 4.5, guy. He’s not a blazer, but that’s fine. He’s a big, physical receiver. He’s going to score a lot of touchdowns and make a lot of first downs.
“I think he’s a big, physical, Dez Bryant-type outside wide receiver. And those guys don’t have to be 4.25 guys. It’s just not the way it is. Terrell Owens, Dez Bryant — those type of receivers get by with their bodies and their route-running and their great hands and their strength. And that’s what Blue’s going to be.”
At No. 115 nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings, Smith would the Wildcats’ second-highest-rated commitment — Landon Young was No. 83 in 2016 — if he were to choose Kentucky.
Greene’s prediction in favor of Ohio State was the 13th in a row for the Buckeyes on Smith’s Crystal Ball page. The Scout.com recruiting insider is 4-for-4 on Crystal Ball picks in the 2018 cycle, but he offered some hope for UK fans.
“I haven’t been wrong yet on one, but I’m probably due,” he said with a laugh, before adding, “This will probably be the one.”
Greene pointed out Smith’s close relationship with lead recruiter Vince Marrow, friendships with high school teammate Alex Reigelsperger, freshman defensive back Tobias Gilliam, who is Smith’s cousin, and others in the Wildcats’ program. There’s also the loyalty factor — UK was the first school to show faith in Smith’s skills as a wide receiver.
Greene said he thinks the Cats “absolutely” have a shot to land their top target.
“There’s a lot of reasons why I could see him choosing Kentucky,” he said. “That was a shaky Crystal Ball pick. Some of them you put in and you feel pretty good about. That one was more of a coin flip.”