C.J. Smith sticks with Nebraska on Signing Day; PB Lakes players sign


Dressed from head to toe in Cornhusker red and white, defensive back C.J. Smith made his college choice official Wednesday morning at Palm Beach Lakes High School.

The No. 2-ranked player on the Post’s Class of 2018 Big Board, the standout safety signed a national letter of intent with the University of Nebraska.

Smith, who played at Oxbridge Academy this fall and transferred to Palm Beach Lakes after the semester ended, committed to the Cornhuskers in December.

[PHOTO GALLERY: Signing Day around Palm Beach County]

A previous Florida commit, the three-star prospect took a recruiting trip to the school earlier that month, and said he knew immediately that was where he wanted to play college football.

“Me coming off the airplane and just seeing that big ‘N’ at the stadium, it just caught my attention,” he said. “Red is my favorite color, too. It has an awesome coaching staff, and that played a big part in it.”

The Cornhuskers have a new head coach in Scott Frost, who helped lead UCF to a 12-0 record and a victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl last month.

Smith said Frost reached out to him immediately after he took the Nebraska job.

“I was the first recruit he texted to come up there,” Smith said. “I just hopped on the ship and committed.”

Three other Palm Beach Lakes players signed letters of intent Wednesday, including two who will stay in Palm Beach County.

Athlete Teja Young signed with FAU, wide receiver Jimmy Hicks signed with Keiser and defensive back Jakari Starling signed with South Dakota.

Young, who played numerous positions for the Rams last season, said the opportunity to play for an up-and-coming program that is coached by Lane Kiffin sold him on the Owls.

“I believe in the process that coach Kiffin has, and the program that he has with his coaching staff,” Young said.

Young, who expects to play defensive back and return kicks for the Owls, said Kiffin impressed him during the recruiting process.

“Coach Kiffin is actually real mellow,” Young said. “He looks like a real superstar, but he’s a real down-to-earth person.”

Unlike Young, Starling will need to pack some warm clothes when he leaves for South Dakota.

The anchor of the Rams’ secondary last season, he said the school was a perfect fit for him.

“It just felt like the right place to go,” he said. “As far as the coaching staff and the school, I can see myself there even if football was to be taken away from me. When I get up there, I’m just expecting to play right away and just continue my education.”



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