Late on Saturday night, Tennessee lost a key member of its 2023 group. Sylvester Smith, a four-star safety out of Alabama, decommitted from the Volunteers. Smith made the announcement with an Instagram post.
The early signing period opens in just four days. Smith is coming off of a visit to Auburn today, where he got to know Hugh Freeze and the new staff. That was apparently enough for Smith to back off of his long time Tennessee pledge.
Smith committed to Tennessee back in April, but other teams remained in contact with him. The Auburn coaching situation was always a wildcard with Smith, as rumors of a potential flip were mentioned around the industry. Today, it comes true.
Smith is the 222nd ranked player in the country, per 247Sports. He’s the 17th ranked safety in the class and the 16th ranked player in the state of Alabama.
Tennessee is left with John Slaughter and Jack Luttrell at safety in the class for the time being. The Volunteers are expected to return Jaylen McCollough next year, but will lose Trevon Flowers. Safety is absolutely a position where Tennessee could use an upgrade, and you wonder if this will push them to take a look at some portal options over the next few weeks.
Tennessee now has 24 commitments in the class, which still ranks 9th in the country.