Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
2021 LB plans return trip to Hill, city urging him to call Hogs
2021 LB Clayton Smith.
TEXARKANA, Texas — Highly regarded junior outside linebacker Clayton Smith visited Arkansas for the Fall Kickoff Cookout in July and has plans to make a return trip this fall.
“I have to make a game this year,” Smith said. “I liked it up there.”
He’s an admirer of coach Chad Morris and associate head coach Jeff Traylor.
“It’s a home environment,” Smith said. “It’s friendly. It’s like you can tell it’s a close-knit family.”
Smith, 6-4, 215 pounds, of Texarkana, Texas, has 10 scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Texas, TCU, LSU, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ole Miss and others. There’s a strong pull for the Razorbacks in his hometown.
“Everybody down here are Arkansas fans,” he said. “The whole city and whole east Texas (community) would be rooting for me at Arkansas.”
He’s told to be a Razorback on a daily basis.
“That’s every day. Every day,” Smith said.
Smith stays in touch with Morris and Traylor.
“We talk almost every day,” Smith said. “I get letters from them every day. It’s lot of communication. I talk to coach Morris on the phone a few times, so we talk once a week or twice a week.”
Two schools are recruiting him the hardest.
“I would say LSU and Arkansas are right there together,” Smith said.
Smith has a strong love of football being from a family of outstanding athletes, including older brother Devin Smith, who played at Wisconsin.
Devin was an All-Big Ten cornerback for the Badgers in 2010 and had stints with the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Everybody, my dad, my older brother, my older half brother, played football,” said Smith, who’s the nephew of Arkansas great and Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters. “Everybody was an athlete. I guess you can say I was born for it. I came into the game early. I’ve been playing since I was four.”
Texarkana coach Gerry Stanford said Smith’s family structure has given him a strong work ethic.
“Clayton puts his time in,” Stanford said. “He has a family that understands what hard work looks like.”
Stanford said Smith has lots of "God-given ability."
“But most of it is what you make of that God-given ability,” Stanford said. “Clayton understands that. He’s a kid that doesn't miss summer workouts. He’s going to be on time. Even during basketball season he’s going to stay in the weight room and continue to develop the skillset he has been given.”
Smith’s versatility makes him an attractive prospect for defensive coordinators.
“He can play almost every play and not have to come off the field,” Stanford said. “So from a scheme standpoint on defense, you can do a lot of things with him.”
He recorded 57 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries and a pass breakup as a sophomore.
He’s visited LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU during the recruiting process.
“I love traveling, I love seeing different places, meeting different people,” he said.
Smith is expecting to make his college decision late next summer or fall. He has a 31-inch vertical and a 6-10 wingspan and uses his physicality from football on the hardwood.
“On the court, I drive a lot,” he said. “I don’t shy away from contact. It helps you finish around the rim, dunk on people.”
He also excels in the classroom and carries a 3.5 grade point average.
“He understands what it means to be well rounded and understands the future is education,” Stanford said.
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