Whether it has been chasing opposing ball carriers or making his college commitment, Airline defensive tackle O.J. Smith has moved quickly.
Smith did so again Saturday, committing to play in January’s UnderArmour All-American Game on the same day his invitation arrived.
“My coach (Bo Meeks) called me, and I missed it,” Smith said. “I called him back, and he said, ‘Did you get my voice mail?’ I said, ‘No, sir.’ And he said, ‘Good, I get to tell you in person.’
“The guy from ESPN wants me to tell you that you’re invited to the UnderArmour All-American game.”
Saturday’s invitation and announcement was the second major event for Smith in the last eight days. Smith, a 6-foot-2, 310-pounder, committed to Alabama on May 24.
Eight days after that commitment, he became the first Airline player to earn an invitation to the UnderArmour game, which will be played in January in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“That’s huge,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said. “We’re very excited, extremely excited, for O.J. It’s not just him, but his teammates will share in it, too.”
Smith, who admitted to being “shocked” by the invitation, will have plenty of familiar faces joining him near the Florida coast in January, as Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris and West Monroe offensive lineman Cameron Robinson both are committed to playing in the game as well.
“It should be fun,” said Smith, who recorded 66 tackles, including 26 for loss, four sacks and two blocked kicks as a junior. “Brandon said it’s the biggest recruiting class (from Louisiana in the game).”
Despite Smith’s rapid climb up the college football recruiting ladder, he maintains little has changed from before his eight-day whirlwind.
“I’m still the same,” said Smith, who is Louisiana’s 24th-ranked prospect on 247sports.com’s composite rankings. “I’m just an up-and-coming player trying to get his chance and put his name out there.”