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Tennessee Gets Creative with Corey Smith's Eligibility

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Props to Tennessee's coaching staff for the innovative plan that landed Corey Smith's verbal commitment last Friday. What's so unique about the situation? Smith is going to forgo his senior season to enroll early . . . at junior college. Why? Here's how Inside Tennessee explains it:

Smith will spend three semesters at [East Mississippi Community College], beginning this June. He will play one semester for the Lions and will redshirt one semester. This will give him three years to play three for the Volunteers. By enrolling early and forgoing his senior season this will put him a head [sic] of school of his fellow senior class mates. He will enroll in January of 2013 and be the same as a Grey shirt in this recruiting class.

The same article says that a Scout writer was the first to "put a stop to a lot of rumors circulating around Smith’s academic situation," which seems to suggest that the plan may not have anything to do with academic eligibility, but also calls the arrangement  "the perfect academic plan to get eligible." GVX reports that, according to Smith's high school coach, Smith is "eligible" to return and play his senior season but that the school "'won't allow him to come back here and play high school football' because they feel like he deserves his chance to play collegiate football." The odd scenario is apparently a consequence of Smith apparently already having been in high school for four years.

Regardless, there's some eligibility issue, and Tennessee's staff devised an innovative plan to help get the guy qualified and eligible for enrollment at a major university and to reserve as much playing time once he gets there as they could. They also happened to snag a recruit with offers from several big time rivals, including Alabama and Georgia, in the process.