How Michigan Can Beat out Pac-12 Powers for 4-Star ATH John Smith

Andrew Kulha@@AKonSportsSenior Analyst IIIMarch 1, 2013

Via 247Sports
Via 247SportsKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines have the chance to recruit highly-touted athlete John Smith from Long Beach, Calif., but they'll have to out-recruit some big-time Pac-12 powers in the process.

Smith seems to be leaning USC right now, but he's been very open about the fact that there's plenty of time to go in his recruitment, and he's not going to make an early commitment.

That's good news for the Wolverines, who find themselves in Smith's top six, according to Smith's quotes via Edward Lewis of

"My top right now I would say is Wisconsin, Michigan, USC, UCLA and Cal," Smith said. "Those are my top right now with Washington in the mix. Those are my high interests right there."

USC was his childhood favorite and he just recently took an unofficial visit for a junior day, according to Lewis' report.

The school that appears to have the upper hand for now is USC. Smith is fresh off an unofficial visit there for Junior Day, and after growing up rooting for the Trojans, he felt at home on the campus.

"It was great meeting the coaches and seeing the new facility," Smith said. "They put like $75 million into it and it was awesome. Meeting the new coaches, it felt like home. I felt like I knew them for a couple months and there was good chemistry between all of us."

For all intents and purposes, the Trojans are in the lead for Smith, but all of the west coast programs seem like legitimate options if he wants to stay within Pac-12 country. Then there's Wisconsin, a program that's on the list because of the atmosphere and coaching staff, per Lewis's report.

The Wolverines are undoubtedly behind the eight ball in this recruitment considering Smith's affinity for USC and his proximity to the west coast schools, but I wouldn't count out Hoke and his staff.

Hoke has proven himself to be an elite college football recruiter, and Michigan has a ton to offer the elite recruit.

First and foremost is the tradition and prestige of the program. Michigan is a traditional powerhouse in the world of college football, and Hoke is in the process of restoring the program to national prominence. The Wolverines look set to compete for the Big Ten championship in 2013 and beyond, and some even feel that a national championship or two is on their horizon.

There's also the Greg Mattison impact to factor in. Mattison is arguably one of the best defensive coordinators in college football and has led a defensive revival of epic proportions at Michigan. His 4-3 multiple scheme is aggressive and allows for defensive backs to make plays. That's the best-case scenario for a good cornerback who has the talent to capitalize.

There's also the fact that he's coached NFL stars like Ed Reed when he was with the Baltimore Ravens. Mattison has a proven track record and he can tell a defensive back like Smith exactly what it will take to get to the NFL. 

That's going to have to be Michigan's biggest pitch if the Wolverines want to steal Smith away from Pac-12 country, and USC specifically. The Trojans can offer him a depth chart that's just a bit more friendly at the cornerback position considering that USC's main 2013 corner recruit, 5-star Jalen Ramsey, flipped to Florida State.

However, the Trojans did sign 4-star Chris Hawkins so it could end up being a wash. Michigan, on the other hand, signed three 2013 cornerbacks, including 4-star Jourdan Lewis.

If Michigan can convince Smith that fighting for playing time is worth playing for Mattison and for a program with legitimate national championship aspirations, the Wolverines will have a chance to pull ahead of the Trojans, Bruins, Golden Bears, Huskies and Badgers when all is said and done.

Michigan's chances will increase if it can go out and have a dominant season on the field, especially on defense.

Thankfully, Smith seems patient and willing to see how things shake up, so the Wolverines are firmly in the running.

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