Four-star safety decommits from Tennessee after visiting SEC rival

Coming off a visit to another SEC school, one of Tennessee’s longtime commitments has parted ways with the Vols. Four-star Class of 2023 safety Sylvester Smith announced Saturday night in a post on his Instagram account that he has decommitted from Tennessee, reopening his recruitment just four days before Early Signing Day.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Smith had been committed to the Vols since late April. He showed up at Auburn on Saturday for an unofficial visit with the Tigers, according to a report from 247Sports’ Auburn site, Auburn Undercover.

Smith is ranked the No. 222 overall prospect and No. 17 safety in the 2023 class and the No. 16 senior from the state of Alabama, according to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. He’s also rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports, where he’s ranked the No. 30 safety in the 2023 class and the No. 18 seniors from Alabama.

He was one of three projected safeties in Tennessee’s 2023 class. The other two safeties in the Vols’ class — John Slaughter of Southaven (Miss.) High School and Jack Luttrell of Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, Ga. — already have arrived on campus and are participating in Tennessee’s on-campus practices leading up to the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl against Clemson. The Vols are left with 24 commitments for the 2023 class.

Smith posted a note on his Instagram account in which he revealed his decision to back off his longstanding commitment to Tennessee.

“First and foremost, I want to thank the University of Tennessee for welcoming me with open arms,” ​​he wrote. “I want to thank coaches (Heupel), Banks, and (Martinez) for spending the time and effort to recruit me.

“With that being said, I must do what is best for me and my family and decommit from the University of Tennessee. Thank you Tennessee, and Tennessee fans.”

He visited Tennessee three times between January and early April before announcing his commitment to the Vols on April 26. Auburn, Georgia and LSU were among the other teams that he said he considered before revealing his choice. He has received scholarship offers from more than 30 schools.

In October, Smith told GoVols247 that other teams had been in contact with him since the start of his senior season. But he said at the time that he was still firmly committed to the Vols.

“Everybody really kept recruiting me,” he said at the time. “I mean, I heard from — especially my senior year, having a year like I am — there’s been a lot of schools trying to apply pressure. But I’m standing firm with my decision. I’m locked in with Tennessee. . ..

“When I got into this, I knew I was going to make my decision once and be done with it. That’s just the type of person I am. I’ve always been raised up by my dad — all a man has is his word , so giving them my word and letting them know, like, that’s where I’m at, that’s where I’m going to be. And preparing myself to do everything at Tennessee, so the preparation has already started, and I don’t plan on stopping it or putting my attention elsewhere.”

Smith played extensively at quarterback during his senior season, rushing for 1,735 yards and 24 touchdowns while averaging 10.2 yards per carry. He also completed 47 of 93 passes for 606 yards and seven touchdowns. On defense, he recorded 42 tackles, including four tackles for loss, along with five interceptions and a pair of pass breakups.

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