Another LeCounte? This big 4-star UGA target seems like the first Nolan Smith

Soon-to-be IMG sophomore OLB Nolan Smith already has a very interesting recruiting story.

This story might take a minute to get to. Apologies. But just wait for it.

Being plugged into recruiting means you hear about the next big things a lot. Some shine in their own little shade of grass, but aren’t ready for the FieldTurf.

That seems like an odd way — even to me — to start off with Nolan Smith. That name came to me during his freshman year at Calvary Day in Savannah. He had 2 sacks but was already seen as a hot prospect.

Smith took a big leap in 2016: 12 sacks, 16 tackles for losses. 74 total tackles.

Soon-to-be IMG Academy sophomore Nolan Smith II had a tremendous showing in the “True 19” sophomore showdown representing Team Georgia against Texas. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

But there’s a point when reality chimes. He’s a high school sophomore. That’s too far away. So I pumped the brakes.

They stayed pumped until December. I honestly knew the names and faces of about 25 other big-time 2019 recruits before I met him that day.

I saw him at an Elite Sophomores practice. He crushed it.

We had our first good chat. He crushed that, too.

When he spoke, two names came to mind. Richard LeCounte III. Jameis Winston. (Winston was almost the valedictorian at his school. He got into Stanford. Winston told me he wanted to be a podiatrist when he was a high school sophomore.)

Smith made a series of plays in the “True 19” elite sophomore game. The first was a tackle for a loss at the goal line in safety territory. He then basically put his helmet underneath the quarterback’s chin strap on third down. Destroyed that play.

Nolan Smith will transfer and move to IMG Academy on Saturday. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

He was everywhere. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder had also clearly established Georgia as the team to beat in his recruiting.

That’s the point where I thought: Ask a DawgNation reader how much they want to know about a 2019 kid. They’ll cringe. But tell them about Smith. They will want to know about a kid who loves his home state, cares about the world and plays like a pass-rush ninja every single down. 

He could be another LeCounte. But that’s just a parallel for folks to quickly deduce what he is all about. He’s transferring from Calvary to IMG Academy this Saturday.

The guy could be the first Nolan Smith. And after 3 quarterback sacks and 4 tackles and umpteen other QB pressures against Texas, it seems like he already is.

Pretty big news: DawgNation is starting its own message board. Be one of the first to check it out!

Getting to know Nolan  

First, there’s the football.

“I’m always trying to perfect the pass rush,” Smith said. “Trying to be really dominant on a base block. If I get a base block, I need to learn how to always put his butt back in the hole and just working on always being a disciplined football player. That’s it.”

A rough estimate of his snaps against Texas shows me he beat his block on at 35 percent of his snaps. At least. That’s the beast mode the kids talk about.

Smith realizes his likely Saturday fit is at outside linebacker.

“I talk to Coach (Kevin) Sherrer from Georgia and me and him are real good friends,” Smith said. “I like being an outside linebacker. I feel like they can get me to that next level of being dominant.”

Nolan Smith wears an inscribed cross under his pads at every game that symbolizes the special relationship he has with his grandmother. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

His “yes, sirs” flow forth in conversation as quickly as those QB hurries came against Texas.

He knows where he wants to go to college. Already.

“It is really nice,” Smith said. “I really know what I want to do. My mind is made up basically right now.”

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