Published Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 | 11:45 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 | 6 p.m.
The college football recruiting process wasn't always smooth for Bishop Gorman High 2013 wide receiver Ryan Smith, but as of Wednesday it's over: He's verbally committed to Duke.
Smith, who is Nevada all-time leading receiver with 3,208 yards, had verbally committed in mid-December to New Mexico. That’s where his father, DeAndre Smith, was the Lobos’ first-year running back’s coach. But last week DeAndre left New Mexico for the same job at Syracuse, opening the door for his son to explore his college options.
“I was very excited to play for my dad, but one of his coaching buddies called and offered him the (Syracuse) job,” Smith. “That allowed me to open my college decision, and I just loved it at Duke.”
The 5-foot-7, 170-pound Smith visited Duke last weekend, picking the school over offers from Colorado State and Utah State, which he also visited. His weekend host was Shaquille Powell, a Duke freshman and 2012 Gorman graduate.
Part of the trip included attending a Duke basketball game against Georgia Tech. The Duke students are known for creating one of college basketball’s best home-court advantages and Smith said they didn’t disappoint.
“That atmosphere was just great,” he said.
Smith, who finished his four-year varsity career with 43 touchdowns, is the third from Gorman to make a college decision this week — defensive lineman Jake Smirk (Dartmouth) and wide receiver Jamir Tillman (Navy) also committed.
Other players from Gorman who committed include: quarterback Anu Solomon (Arizona), defensive back Lorenzo Fertitta Jr. (Villanova), defensive back Justin Sweet (Colorado State) and 2014 defensive lineman Isaiah Nacua (BYU).
Verbal commitments are non-binding until an athlete signs a letter-of-intent on national signing day, which is Feb. 6. That’s why Smith was able to change his pledge from New Mexico.
He was recruited by Duke during the high school season and, regardless of where his father was coaching, planned on seriously considering the school. After the trip, he realized it was the place he belonged.
“It is a very prestigious university. I know what a Duke degree will do for me when I graduate college,” he said.