LAURINBURG — Scotland senior linebacker Jonathan Smith is getting closer to making his college decision.
Smith is entering the homestretch of his recruitment and six schools have separated themselves.
”My top schools in no order are Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech,” said the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder. “Other schools still have a chance, but those are the schools I’m focused on right now. North Carolina and Georgia Tech are recruiting me the hardest.
”All those schools have a great fanbases and academics. I also have a great relationship with each one of those coaching staffs.”
Smith rebounded from a knee injury that wiped out his sophomore campaign to win the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014.
Smith led the Scots in tackles last season, recording 156 stops. He also notched 22 tackles for loss, four sacks and an interception.
In addition to earning all-SEC honors, Smith was also named to the Associated Press all-state team after helping Scotland reach the quarterfinals of the North Carolina 4A playoffs.
Besides his top five, Smith holds offers from Boston College, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia.
His next visit will be in a few days.
”I’m going to North Carolina on Sunday,” he said. “I’ve been there a lot, so I’ve pretty much seen everything. I’m looking forward to going up there and being around the coaches and just talking football.
”Hopefully, I’ll be able to spend some time with coach (Gene) Chizik and (linebackers) coach (John) Papuchis. I like how they always stay in touch with me and how they always tell me that they want me to be a part of the team.”
Besides North Carolina, he hopes to visit Duke and Georgia Tech in the next few weeks.
Notre Dame was the most recent school to offer.
”It’s really exciting to have an offer from them,” Smith said. “It’s a great school that’s very prestigious. I definitely want to go up there this summer. I’m looking forward to continuing to develop a great relationship with the coaching staff and want to learn more about the academics on the trip.
”I’ve known(defensive line) coach (Keith) Gilmore since he was at North Carolina, and I like him a lot. I really like the way he interacts with me and he’s easy talking to him.”
The senior standout will visit Michigan on the same trip.
”I stay in contact with (defensive coordinator) coach (D.J.) Durkin,” Smith said. “I like him a lot and he’s a very down to earth guy.
”I’m looking forward to getting up there and being around the coaches. I also want to learn about their defensive scheme and how I would fit.”
Smith plans to make a decision by the end of the summer. Scotland opens the regular season at home against South View on Aug. 21.
Laurinburg Exchange sports editor Logan Martinez contributed to this report.