Spartan NATION EXCLUSIVE: Newest Spartan 2014 DT Recruit Enoch Smith Jr. Talks With Spartan Nation!
Spartan Nation: Enoch, good to talk with you!
Enoch Smith, Jr.: Thank you for having me.
Spartan Nation: Enoch is my favorite Bible character. I love his story. Faith is something that’s very important to you, isn’t it Enoch?
Enoch Smith, Jr.: Yes sir.
Spartan Nation: Talk about that faith. In the recruiting process I’m sure you met a lot of coaches who are men of faith. But what did it mean to you that Mark Dantonio not only is one, but he’s so upfront about it?
Enoch Smith, Jr.: Well, when I sat down and spoke with Coach Dantonio I asked him how would he incorporate a player’s church life into their football life. He said on Sundays he gives the players an opportunity to go up to church early in the morning and he gives them most of the afternoon. That meant a lot to me because I’m a junior deacon at my church. I help out at my church…I help with devotions, I give prayers and I help to take the mothers home from church and bring them to church.
Spartan Nation: Nothing beats a good church mother’s meal on a Sunday afternoon. Does it?
Enoch Smith, Jr.: Oh, no sir.
Spartan Nation: Enoch, what were your thoughts and impressions of Ron Burton?
Enoch Smith, Jr: Coach Burton is by far one of the best defensive line coaches I’ve ever met. I like his energy and his enthusiasm that he brings to the program. From the get-go… The first day he was on staff was when I came down there for a visit and we introduced ourselves to each other, he told me how bad he wanted me to play for Michigan State, even though that was his first day. He said he heard so much about me and he had watched my film that day. That meant a lot to me because he’s already on the job and trying to get me there, and I didn’t even have an offer at that point. The next day I received a scholarship offer and then from that point on he was just onme, telling me how much I could fit in to the Michigan State program. I felt as if he was genuine with his answers and I know Coach Dantonio was genuine with his answers as well.
Spartan Nation: That’s important being genuine in the recruiting process. We hear all the time how the recruiting process is full of people who are disingenuous, Did you find that a lot when you were out on the trail?
Enoch Smith, Jr: I felt as if some people were stretching the truth. I don’t know if they were always being disingenuous, but I felt that a lot as I went around on my different visits. So I just had to take my time, pray to God that I made the best decision for myself and my family. And I can honestly say that I have and I don’t regret anything that I’ve done.
Spartan Nation: You may be a saint during the week but when he crosses over the line he plays like a demon-possessed zombie. I think that’s a pretty fair way to describe it. Enoch, what do you think?
Enoch Smith, Jr: Well, my friends actually came up with a nickname for me because I’ve been so big and I’ve always dominated on the defensive side of the ball. So they call me the leader of the decepticons, which is the defense, so they’ve given me the nickname Megatron. I’ve used that all the way from eighth grade until now.
Spartan Nation: I like it. Hey, we got three recruits in the Michigan State class already from the state of Illinois. Chase Gianacakos, you and Brian Allen. Talk a little bit about Illinois bringing it strong for Michigan State this year.
Enoch Smith, Jr: Yes sir. Actually, when I was down for the spring game Chase and his family were trying to convince me to commit. Little did they know a couple hours later I would commit. I was speaking to Brian shortly after I committed and he was telling me how we need to get guys like Jamarco Jones, Niles Morgan, Parker Westfall, Clifton Garrett from Plainfield South.
Spartan Nation: So now that you’re committed are you gonna pick up the cell phone and become a recruiter?
Enoch Smith, Jr: Actually, not even an hour after I committed I started talking to guys such as Jamarco Jones, which is one of my rivals on the field. I’ve been talking with Chris James from Notre Dame High School. I’m trying to get in contact with Jamarco. I spoke with Niles Morgan a little bit but I’m trying to get guys to come to an elite program that we’re trying to build up so we can win national championships while we’re there.
Spartan Nation: Enoch, you mentioned how much you loved the energy of Ron Burton. Well if you love the energy of Burton, how about his boss Pat Narduzzi?
Enoch Smith, Jr: Oh man, Coach Narduzzi is one of the best guys out there. To me, I consider him the best defensive coordinator in the nation at the collegiate level. What he’s done in the past 5-6 years since he’s been there…he’s always had one of the top five defenses in the college football level. I took most of that as a key component of my decision as well. I just want he brings to the table. I can honestly see myself a part of that defense.
Spartan Nation: When I talk to defensive recruits they all universally love Pat Narduzzi and they all have some interesting stories. Can you tell me about the recruiting process, maybe some things he said or did that stuck out to you?
Enoch Smith, Jr: He was telling me how I could come in… He’s not talking about guaranteeing me anything. I have to work for everything that is being placed in front of me, which I like. Because some guys during the recruiting process will come in and tell you all these things, you can come in and start. But he’s telling me I have to come in and work for everything I want to try to get. I told him when I commit I want to be the first defensive lineman to win the Heisman trophy. And he told me my goals are very reachable. I just have to do what I need to do on and off the field to accomplish those goals.
Spartan Nation: What do you do best right now?
Enoch Smith, Jr: Right now I’m working out with my team, making sure that we correct the little things so we can win another state championship like we did last season. I’m also working with my dad, working my pass rush moves, working on how to defeat the run block. And I’m working with a guy by the name of Oliver Gibson. He actually went to Notre Dame. He’s helping me with certain defensive line stuff that he sees that I need to work on. I work out with him about 4-5 times a week.
Spartan Nation: What’s your biggest weak point right now?
Enoch Smith, Jr: I would say my hand speed. He says I’m a little robotic. I told him the defense that we run is not designed for defensive linemen to make the plays. We’re opening the gaps for the linebackers and then we have to close to the ball. But I like the input he’s giving me. He just wants me to be that much quicker, just one step faster, which I believe I’m getting better at every day.
Spartan Nation: I know you have some type of relationship, I don’t know how deep it is…what’s your relationship with Demetrius Cooper?
Enoch Smith, Jr: He’s extremely funny. At the spring game I was kind of disappointed in him because he came down in some shorts and just a jacket. He was freezing the entire time because the sun would come out for about 2 minutes, then the snow would come back. I was laughing at him the entire time. But prior to me coming down to Michigan State, he would always tell me I needed to come down here and get onboard with the Michigan State team so we could play on the same line with each other. It was kind of a component for me to commit to Michigan State because me and him come from the same background. We’re two African American young men come from the south side of Chicago, struggling and trying to make it. Seeing him make it was a motivation to me so I took that and into recruiting process that I actually look up to him a little bit.
Spartan Nation: Tell me this…how excited are you about playing next to him on that Michigan State defense?
Enoch Smith, Jr: Man, I can’t wait to play next to him on the defensive line. The energy that he brings, and the energy that I bring, I know we can both do some destructive things on that defensive line and we can wreak havoc.
Spartan Nation: I was talking to someone who’s coached against you in high school recently, and he said to me that the only thing that stands between you and the NFL is can you drive yourself to play at a high level every single down. He said no doubt you have the talent. Now it’s gonna be up to you to drive yourself. When you hear that, what’s that make you think?
Enoch Smith, Jr: It makes me think that I just need to give a little more effort because there’s always somebody out there trying to be better than you. Just keep that in the back of my head, go out and work hard every day, don’t take any days off and just give a little bit more effort. When you get tired just remember that there’s always someone trying to be better than you.