TEXARKANA, Texas — Clayton Smith, the No. 1-ranked outside linebacker in Texas, verbally committed to Oklahoma University Friday.
Smith, who has started for two years for Texas High and helped the Tigers on both sides of the ball, had 27 NCAA scholarship offers and had narrowed his search down to six schools: OU, Texas, LSU, Oregon, Florida State and the University of Kentucky.
"Oklahoma checked every box for me, as far as the scheme goes, the coaching staff, the fanbase, and all of that," Smith stated after his announcement. "I just can't go wrong with OU."
The senior-to-be plans to graduate after the fall semester and enroll in Norman, Okla., for the 2021 spring semester.
"It's intriguing to have a kid like Clayton; he's the Swiss Army Knife for a lot of people (because of his versatility)," Texas High head football coach and athletic director Gerry Stanford said. "Some schools offered him on offense, some offered him as the Sam linebacker on the field, some as the stand-up in a 4-down (front), and some as the 3-4 weak rusher.
"Most likely, he's going to be that guy who can get after the quarterback. Those type of players are invaluable, at any level, in this day and time, and Clayton has put himself to go to one of the top schools in the country."
While starting at defensive end for the Tigers his junior year, Smith was an outside linebacker as a sophomore. He also saw time at tight end and split end last fall.
At 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, Smith has the size and frame to play anywhere in the front seven.
"The recruiting process has been a blessing," Smith said. "I want to say I didn't see it coming, but I just didn't think it would hit me as hard. I want to thank my family for putting me in this position, my coaches and my teammates; it wouldn't be possible without those guys. I'm glad it's coming to an end, but I enjoyed it.
"I've been told I'm going to be learning all four linebacker spots, so anyway it goes I'll be on the field."
Stanford, who has had head coaching stints at White Oak and Flower Mound Marcus, has had a number of high school players he coached reach the NFL, and he believes Smith will have that same potential.
"One of the greatest opportunities, as a coach, is to see someone grow from where they were and see where they are now," Stanford said. "Clayton has done great with the opportunities he's had. He's obviously got God-given abilities, but he also worked hard to become the best player he could be. And that really shows. It gratifying to see dreams being fulfilled through a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication to get the most out of himself."