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Class of 2014 prospect and Marshall commit Jason Smith will report to his future home sight unseen on January 11.
However, Smith is not worried. He has heard nothing but good things about the Conference USA school and Huntington.
"I think I know enough about it that I will feel comfortable down there," he said.
Smith and his mother attended Marshall's 31-20 victory versus Maryland in the Military Bowl, where they had an opportunity to talk to Thundering Herd fans about the campus and community.
"I heard great things from many people," said Smith, who is a 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive lineman from East Coast Prep in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. "Just the atmosphere at the bowl game itself sets it apart. Everybody came out to support Marshall. That speaks volumes to me. They are loud. They are energetic. It was just great. I can only imagine what they are like at home games."
Following in the footsteps of Corey Tindal, Kent Turene, Angelo Jean-Louis and Deontay McManus, Smith said he will start classes as a mid-year enrollee and an academic non-qualifier on January 13.
"Marshall was the best option for me," Smith said, "because I can start getting classes toward my degree."
Smith selected Marshall over Akron, Bowling Green, Illinois, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Toledo, all of whom offered a scholarship to him or expressed interest in him.
"First and foremost, the academics," Smith said when asked why he chose the Conference USA school. "Academics come before football. You only have football for a certain amount of time. You need to have something to fall back on. They have my major (broadcast journalism). I want to become a sports analyst. That is something they are good at and known for.
"They also have a family atmosphere," he added. "I need that. That is something I'm used to, and that is something I will get at Marshall. Then, there is the football aspect. The coaches are great. They seem like really nice guys. They get you where you want to be. They help you reach your potential as a player and as a person."
Smith also is impressed by the history and tradition at Marshall, particularly the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash.
"Everything they have been through, and the way the community and the state came together to support them, I just love it," he said.
The Thundering Herd's lead recruiter for Smith is defensive tackles coach J.C. Price.
"He is a great guy," Smith said of Price. "He is very funny. I can't wait to be coached by him."
Smith originally was a Class of 2013 prospect from Hackensack High School in Hackensack, New Jersey. He committed to Massachusetts after Signing Day, but he enrolled at East Coast Prep because of his academic issues.
Smith was a two-sport athlete at Hackensack, where he also starred on the basketball team. His best time in the 40-yard dash is 4.7 seconds, which he ran in August. He has a 32-inch vertical. He can bench press 225 pounds 18 times, but his max is 350 pounds. He can squat 390 pounds, although he said that number is low because a sprained left ankle hindered him in the fall.
"My strengths are my aggressive and my motor," Smith said. "I'm a big guy, but I have played basketball my whole life, so I'm quick on my feet. I can do little movements with my hands and feet to get to the quarterback if I'm on the end or to get that first step on the inside if I'm at the three-technique. My biggest weakness is staying low. I have to work on my leverage because this isn't high school football anymore. I have to keep my leverage because the lowest man wins."
Asked to describe himself on the field, Smith said: "Other people tell me I'm a leader. They say I'm the type of player that if my team needs to make a stop, I'm going to be the one to make it."
Jacob Messer is the managing editor for HerdNation.com. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. All comments and feedback are welcome.