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December 7, 2005Rome (Ga.) linebacker Toryan Smith has made his college decision.
The three-star rated prospect whittled his decision down to three finalists, Notre Dame, Alabama and Florida, and made his decision with an announcement on regional cable television Wednesday evening.
The 6-foot, 230-pounder told Rivals.com of his decision in an exclusive interview prior to his appearance on the show.
"I chose the University of Notre Dame," Smith said.
The nation's No. 14 inside linebacker prospect is the 24th verbal commitment for the Irsh in the class of 2006. His decision was based on a lot of good feelings about the program in South Bend.
"I chose Notre Dame because I trust not only the coaching staff, but the environment of people I am going to be around," he said. "I just think that there are a lot of good people up there that will take good care of me."
Irish assistant head coach and secondary coach Bill Lewis was Smith's Notre Dame recruiter. Smith is Lewis' fourth verbal commitment for the class of 2006. Smith also marks the second commitment that Lewis, a former head coach at Georgia Tech, has nabbed from the Peach State, joining Atlanta Westlake linebacker Morrice Richardson.
Smith made his official visit to South Bend the weekend of Oct. 15, taking in Notre Dame's close 34-31 loss to Southern Cal in one of the greatest games in college football history.
The impression that the school, the game environment and the people made on Smith lingered.
"I've been thinking (Notre Dame) for a couple of weeks now," he said. "When I went up there, I wasn't sure. But after I came back and went to some of the other places, I felt that it was the best place for me.
"What stood out to me were the people. They are real loyal. The students and the fan base support their team. I think they will take good care of me up there. The coaches, they love the players. It's a real good environment."
The storied tradition of Notre Dame also made an impact.
"It's real traditional," Smith said. "They have a lot of great players. When I was up there for the USC game, they had all the great ones back. The had Tim Brown, (Joe) Montana and Ricky Watters on the sidelines. I want to be a part of that."
It's a big family. Everybody is close up there. There's just something about that gold helmet."
Smith had a message for Notre Dame fans.
"I can promise that I am going to bring that intensity to the defense," Smith said. "Right now, they've got a great offense because coach Weis is probably the best offensive coach that has every coached. But I want to bring that cut-throat attitude to the defense. That's what you want to do being a middle linebacker."
Northwest Georgia doesn't churn out blue chip prospects at the rate the metro Atlanta area or even South Georgia does, so Smith emerged as a celebrity of sorts around Rome this year.
"Nobody at my school had been recruited big in a long time," Smith said "At first, it was very exciting to me. But then toward the middle of the season, it wore on me. I was playing games and I was taking all these calls. My dad, though, he helped me through this. He told me that you only get to go through this one time. Now, I feel like I am making my decision at the right time."'
UGASports.com recruiting analyst Chad Simmons contributed to this report.