Ohio State Buckeyes: Will Smith Jr. to follow in father’s footsteps

Credit: Mark Lyons

Credit: Mark Lyons

Will Smith Jr. became Ohio State’s fourth verbal commitment of the class of 2023 over the weekend.

Smith is a three-star recruit from Dublin Coffman High School in the Columbus suburbs, but he was building up a large Power 5 offer list including Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Illinois and Northwestern.

His Ohio State offer came Jan. 24, and his commitment not long after did not come as a shock.

The late Will Smith Sr. was one of the best defensive ends in Ohio State history, logging 46.5 tackles for loss and 23 sacks from 2000-03, and a key player in Ohio State’s 2002 national championship run.

In the Fiesta Bowl for the BCS national championship against No. 1 Miami (Fla.), Smith sacked Ken Dorsey on the Hurricanes’ first offensive snap to set the tone for a dominant performance by the Ohio State defensive line in a 31-24 upset victory.

He had eight tackles, including two for loss, against Miami then came back for his senior season in 2003 and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player and Defensive Lineman of the Year and a first-team All-American.

The New Orleans Saints took him in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, and he won a Super Bowl with the franchise in 2009.

The elder Smith was shot to death in New Orleans in 2016 during a dispute over a traffic accident.

Smith Jr. is the No. 14 prospect in Ohio and projects as an interior defensive lineman for the Buckeyes according to 247Sports.

Ohio State’s other verbal commitments among the current junior class are Wayne offensive lineman Josh Padilla, Thomson Station (Tenn.) Independence tight end Ty Lockwood and Cocoa, Fla., safety Cedrick Hawkins.

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