E.A. Sports Today

Sly’s Sunday surprise

Munford 4-star Sylvester Smith switches his commitment to Auburn from Tennessee, said Tuesday the bond he forged with Tigers’ new DBs coach from earlier in his recruitment was key

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

College football fans are used to the unexpected when it comes to the recruiting trail, but local Southeastern Conference fans woke up to a big December Surprise Sunday morning.

Munford four-star safety Sylvester Smith rattled the recruiting world when he declared on social media Sunday morning he had switched his commitment to Auburn after being committed to Tennessee since April.

“When I say it happened fast, it happened fast,” Munford football coach Michael Easley said. “This time last week, this is not what I expected to be talking about one week later.”

When the first-team Class 4A All-State athlete committed to the Vols in April – after holding the secret for several weeks – he said he planned to sign in December and be on campus in time for their spring practice.

Life changed the timetable. Basketball commitments and the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game kept him from making an official visit, Auburn’s new staff reached out and he went to the Plains Saturday.

“It was just as simple as Auburn moved in really, really late in the process, talked him into a visit yesterday for a few hours,” Easley said. “I really thought he was just kind of checking in just in case, as a backup plan. They just kind of swayed him.”

Now, Smith plans to report to the Plains this summer. 

He said Tuesday the bond he forged with new Tigers’ DBs coach Wes McGriff was a key component to his decision.

“He was at Florida before and me and (Troy signee) Kyler Gibson my junior year were going to some of the Florida schools and visiting,” Smith said. “We ended up stopping at Florida and (McGriff) was the DBs coach, so I got to talk with him. He came back to school Monday after Hugh Freeze hired him and we kind of started that back up again.

“Auburn’s somewhere I was going to go at first, but there was so much inconsistency in their coaching staff that I couldn’t just commit there and not have a spot.”

Smith’s phone was “blowing up” in the days after he switched his commitment. Understandably, the Tennessee fan base wasn’t happy, but the Auburn faithful was over the moon. He called the last few days “crazy,” but one with a lot of relief.

“Auburn’s always like the place I wanted to be,” he said. “They didn’t have people in the right positions then, so now they got them. I pretty much knew when they hired Hugh Freeze they would be back in the running. I didn’t know who the DB coach was until he came to the school Monday and I realized it was coach McGriff. I knew it was a done deal then. I pretty much knew going on my visit down there Saturday that it was a done deal.”

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