DeVonta Smith said he just knew he wanted to play for UGA when he camped in Athens this summer. The Class of 2017 prospect made those feelings public when he committed to the program on Monday.
The 4-star athlete felt that way when he was on the campus and practice fields at UGA’s Butts-Mehre Complex at Dawg Night last month. That’s when he earned his UGA offer after showing out at the receiver position.
“It just felt so good,” he said. “It felt like I was at home.”
“Tay” was ready to commit to UGA just a few days after that trip, but he wanted to wait a bit and discuss his feelings with his immediate family.
The right time came Monday morning when he called UGA receivers coach Bryan McClendon and committed to UGA. Smith — a 6 foot-1, 163-pounder out of Louisiana’s Amite High School — continues a streak of wide receiver commitments for the Bulldogs.
“I am pretty solid with my commitment but I am going to leave my recruiting open and go through the process but I am solidly committed at this time,” Smith said.
Smith is UGA’s fifth commitment in a row at the receiver position over the last month. The three-sport athlete is listed as the nation’s No. 17 athlete, but is expected to be a receiver on the college level.
“I will play where ever the team needs me to play at,” he said. “But I really enjoy playing receiver.”
He becomes the third member of UGA’s 2017 recruiting class. He joins McEachern QB Bailey Hockman and Glynn Academy athlete Deejay Dallas. According to 247sports, Smith held offers from Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and UGA.
Smith took the ACT in the eighth grade before high school courses like Algebra, Chemistry, Trigonometry and other subjects. He said he scored a 15 on that test at that time, but hasn’t taken the exam lately.
His mentor Vincent Sanders said Smith currently holds a 3.5 GPA in high school and feels he will have no problem achieving a qualifying score when he takes it again. Smith also plays basketball and runs track. He averaged approximately 21 points per game for his varsity basketball team as a sophomore.
Athleticism is in his blood. He can point to several women in his family who were All-State basketball players.
“I promise you will look back and remember this day,” Sanders said. “The kid’s motivation and determination are unbelievable. I guarantee you that Devonta Smith before he gets out of college will win the Heisman Trophy. He told me ‘Mr. Sanders I am telling you that I will put that Heisman in your shop and it will be here forever.’ I don’t doubt it. I know it is going to happen. You have to see what this kid does after practice. He has an app on his phone that goes off every hour and he has to get down every hour and do 35 push-ups. That’s how dedicated he is. He does those while he is awake.”
Sanders trains and mentors a group of Louisiana athletes that are all big-time SEC prospects. One of those is recent Alabama de-commitment Shyheim Carter. Sanders said he’s had three SEC head coaches tell him that Smith can win the Heisman Trophy. That’s how impressed they were with Smith’s footwork.
“His work ethic is so crazy I have to call him off,” Sanders said. “He won’t stop he’s so dedicated. I have to worry about him being over-dedicated and hurting himself he is just so focused.”
Current UGA Director of Player Personnel Sam Petitto was once the head football coach for the same Louisiana high school team that Smith now plays for. Smith plans to study business or perhaps Kinesiology in college, but he’s got awhile to settle on one of those.
Smith follows Dallas, Charlie Woerner, Randrecous Davis and Davion Curtis in committing to play receiver at UGA over the last month.
— Devonta Smith (@Smityyy03) July 20, 2015
— Ben Brandenburg (@dbbrandenburg) August 10, 2015
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) August 10, 2015
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.