Geno Smith commits to Alabama

This much was certain: Four-star cornerback Geno Smith was going to play in the state of Alabama and for one of the past two national champions in Alabama or Auburn.

At a news conference at Atlanta St. Pius X Catholic, Smith, who is the nation's No. 2 cornerback and No. 31 prospect overall, chose Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

"I committed to Alabama," Smith said. "Everything kind of came together when I went there for my last unofficial visit. It's the place where I felt the most comfortable. I love the players there and they all had nothing but great things to say about the school. Plus, they have a really good broadcasting/communications department."

A big reason why Smith selected the Crimson Tide was Saban's history of success at developing defensive backs. He wants to be another great one from Tuscaloosa.

"That played a part in my decision," Smith said. "But it's not just that. It's the history and tradition of Alabama, from Bear Bryant all the way to now. There's so much there. And Alabama does has a history of developing players."

Smith had narrowed things down to five schools back in late May -- Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, Texas and Tennessee -- but it came down to the two in-state rivals.

"It was a very hard decision to make," Smith said. "You know, I love Auburn. They were the first school to offer me and that was my sophomore season. I had so much fun with those coaches and the hardest part was telling them no. It was very hard. The same thing can be said for the other coaches at schools like Tennessee and Notre Dame. I called them all right before the press conference."

Smith, 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, had eight interceptions last season as a junior. He's the No. 3 prospect from Georgia and the state's top cornerback. The No. 2 corner from Georgia, Joshua Holsey (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside), committed to Auburn.

"I can't wait to get to Alabama," Smith said. "Of course I want to play. But I know I need to learn their defense, learn the [college] game and get settled. I will go from there. I just need to go in and work hard."

Smith and his St. Pius X Catholic teammates open up their season Friday, Aug. 26, against Atlanta Westminster.

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.