South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp got the chance Monday to make his strongest pitch yet to Wando High wide receiver OrTre Smith, and he didn’t fumble the opportunity.
Smith (6-4, 210) and his mother spent about eight hours with the Gamecocks and make a thorough examination of the school and the football program.
“They kind of pulled out all the stops this time,” said Smith’s mother, Tashia Green. “We spoke to the president of the university. We spoke to athletic director Tanner, Dr. Guy, the academic support team and the coaches, etc. They pulled out all the stops. I heard so many coaches tell me, ‘You know Ms. Green, coach said I don’t care what’s going on here, OrTre Smith is on campus and he is the number one priority today.’ I was just like, ‘You guys can stop telling me that. I get it, I get it.’ It was really a good, a good visit, really laid back and relaxed. They always treat us really good.”
Ms. Green said Muschamp cited her son’s academic achievements and his leadership skills.
“He knows I’m really big on academics,” she said. “I know he kind of pounded that, too. But what was really the funniest thing and the cutest thing to me was, when we were leaving for the day and Muschamp gave me a hug and I walked on out. OrTre was the last to leave and he whispered to OrTre, ‘I need you.’ He just doesn’t make it a secret by saying that Tre is a priority for the 2017 class.”
The day before visiting USC, the pair visited Georgia and also enjoyed a favorable experience.
“We sat down with Coach Smart and he discussed the importance of academics and he wants to improve the football team’s GPA,” Ms. Green said. “He’s just looking for athletes that can excel not only on the field but in the classroom as well. The first thing he talked about was being impressed with OrTre just taking care of his business. He just went on and on and spoke of his academic achievements. It was more relaxing to me because I always hear football, football, football. I’m like, he has to eligible before he can play football, that’s just what it is in my home. If you don’t get your grades, you don’t play. I don’t care if the coach says you can play, you will not play. Every coach knows that. Both of them, USC and Georgia, they did their research.”
Muschamp and Smart both got the message from Smith’s mother, as other coaches they visit will, the school she endorses will be the one that convinces her it’s the best all-around fit for her son for life, not just for football.
“Like I told both of them, especially Coach Muschamp, I always tell them, ‘Tre is my boy, he’s my baby, and I don’t care if he grows to be 6-6, he’s still my baby, and I need to know who I am dropping my child off to,’ ” Ms. Green said. “I want to make sure they take care of him. I said I don’t care if he starts or doesn’t start because Tre is going to come and work hard regardless. It’s not about competition for Tre. He is going to work.”
Part of USC’s presentation, according to Ms. Green, was a video showing all of the South Carolina natives who have come through the Gamecock program and who are there now.
“I told him (Muschamp), you better come at him really hard,” she said. “It’s not me you have to focus on. You really have to come at OrTre hard because he has to be convinced.”
Smith and his mother will hit the road again later this week. They will visit Clemson on Friday with plans on being there most of the day. Smith on Saturday will join up with his godmother in North Carolina for a visit to Chapel Hill. His mother will not make that trip because of sports duties with her younger son.
Smith tentatively has set his birthday of Sept. 11 for his decision announcement.