The recruitment of former Akron Buchtel wide receiver Corey Smith is certainly not the normal recruiting story. In the summer of 2011, Smith was ruled ineligible by the Ohio High School Association, and not allowed to play his senior season at Buchtel.
For a player with multiple offers, this was not the way Smith envisioned his senior season going, so his road to Division-I football took a slight detour. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound, athlete decided to enroll at Grand Rapids Community College, and he soon realized this wasn't big-time college football.
"On the way to Grand Rapids, my mattress flew off the roof and got ruined on the interstate, so already I didn't have a bed," Smith said laughingly. "When I got there and asked about the meal plan, they told me I was eligible to receive food stamps, and I should start that application right away. I knew right away that I wasn't at one of the top Division-I programs in America, and I wouldn't be living the way my friends were living their lives, but I still had my dream to chase."
Although Smith played extremely well at Grand Rapids, the school decided to discontinue its football program in January of 2012, so he was soon on the way to his next stop. Smith enrolled at East Mississippi Community College, where he would spend his second year away from high school.
After another stellar season in 2012, Smith went back through the recruiting process, earning offers from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan State, Auburn, Tennessee, and several other top programs.
After committing to Mississippi State in December of 2012, Smith still had Urban Meyer and Ohio State in hot pursuit. Following an official visit to Columbus, Smith decided his future would be best served back in his home state, and he signed with Ohio State in February of 2012. He will report to Ohio State this coming June.
"I'm finishing up at East Mississippi, mainly focusing on my schoolwork and getting stronger in the weight room," he stated. "Coach Meyer wants me to weigh in at 185-pounds when I get there, and be able to do ten reps of 225-pounds on the bench. I'm up to 187-pounds right now, but I'm a little short on the ten reps. I'm going to get there though, and Coach Meyer knows that."
"When I was on my official visit to Ohio State I weighed around 175," he added. "I speak to Coach Meyer and he really just stresses getting my grades, because he knows I'm going to do the things he needs me to do from the football standpoint. I also speak to (wide receivers coach) Zach Smith all the time, and he's the man to me. I speak to Coach Smith more than I talk to anyone else in my life, to be honest. He's the coach I want leading me the next two years, and he's my boss."
Even though Smith will have three years to complete his two seasons of eligibility, there are no plans for him to redshirt or sit out a year.
"I'm not going to be redshirting at all, and if that needed to happen it would mean Ohio State took the wrong guy because they expect me to be ready to go," Smith said. "Coach (Tom) Herman tells me I have a great chance to start and it's wide open for me. They expect me to come in and grind, and that's one of Coach Meyer's big sayings."
"A true freshman can come in and ease into his spot, but it won't be that way for me," he admitted. "That's not any pressure really, and I'm confident I'm going to be the guy Coach Meyer says he needs on offense."
Smith already has a great relationship with current Ohio State player Doran Grant, in fact the two are related.
"I'm closest to Doran for sure, and we are cousins," Smith noted. "We've been tight for a long time, and he really pushed Coach Meyer to come after me hard. I've also developed a relationship with Braxton (Miller), and we text back and forth a lot."
"When I get to Ohio State, I plan on getting an apartment by myself, because I don't want any distractions," he admitted. "I've been on my own for a while now, and it's been working well on the field and in the classroom, so why change things?"
Rather than let his struggles the past few years drag him down, Smith is using his experiences as motivation to help him accomplish his goals at Ohio State.
"Everybody doesn't get to follow the same path, and while I'm not glad I had to go this route, I'm happy with myself for sticking to it and making it to Ohio State," he stressed. "I've become mature as a person, and I'm a lot wiser. I was never a bad kid, but I made some bad choices and paid for them. I don't live with the same mindset."
"I would be lying if I sit here and tell you I knew I was going to make it, but I guess I always had hope," Smith said. "I would get down on myself, but I always had the ability to motivate myself to go on for another day. I never looked long term, because that was depressing. I just tried to handle my business on that day, and get prepared for tomorrow."
With his dream of playing major college football about to become a reality, Smith has an idea of what the feeling is going to be like the first Saturday he takes the field as a Buckeye.
"It's hard to imagine for me, but when I dream about it I get emotional," Smith declared. "I know the first game when I run out of that tunnel I'm probably going to be crying. When I look up in the stands to see my mom, I know she's going to be crying for sure, and it's going to get to me. When they sing the National Anthem, and my family is up there cheering for me, I'm going to have lots of tears running down my face. But when they kick the ball off, I will be all about business."