MELISSA, Texas (BVM) — The Oklahoma Sooners have the No. 7 recruiting class in the nation and it includes Nigel Smith II, the No. 86-ranked high school football prospect in the Class of 2024. The defensive lineman has received nearly 40 D-I scholarship offers and the four-star prospect will look to help the Sooners’ defense, which is ranked No. 32 in the country.
Smith’s career on the gridiron began at an early age in Little Elm, Texas, but despite enjoying the sport, he wanted to pursue basketball.
“Football started for me going into fourth grade,” Smith said. “One of my best friends, his pops, coached football and tried to get me to play for years. I wanted to be a hooper. I wanted to play basketball and stay inside in that AC. It’s too hot outside in Texas for me to want to play football, but I ended up playing.”
Smith continued to improve on the football field and when he became a freshman in high school, he moved to Melissa and joined the football program at Melissa High School.
“I didn’t really want to move to Melissa. I didn’t want to leave all my friends that I had grown up with and built great relationships with,” Smith said. “So I didn’t think it was a great move for me, but it ended up being a very good move for me. The city welcomed me with open arms and I just got to make more friends and win some football games.”
Smith quickly made an impression on Melissa’s head football coach Matt Nally who quickly took a liking to his abilities.
“I moved him up to varsity just for depth. Nothing more, nothing less,” Nally said. “Then slowly but surely he started to show what he was about. The playoffs of his freshman year is really where he exploded onto the scene and just kind of proved to people that this kid can play a little bit.”
He was awarded District 7-4A-I Co-Defensive Newcomer of the Year and received numerous D-I scholarship offers.
“Not many people can say that they first got offers freshman year so it’s pretty cool to be one of those select few,” Smith said. “For it to just kick up like it has and me being recruited by basically everybody in the nation has been a blessing.”
Smith was poised to build off his freshman season and did just, helping the Cardinals to an 11-3 record and he was voted unanimous District 7-4A-I Defensive Lineman of the Year after recording 66 tackles, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles, as a sophomore.
He had another impressive season as a junior campaign, recording 103 tackles, 11 sacks and two forced fumbles. His continued success on the football field helped him win District 7-5A-II Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a Class 5A first-team all-state selection.
Melissa standout Nigel Smith II
— Jason Howell (@Jason_Howell) April 18, 2023
Continuing his dominance on the field also helped him receive Power 5 scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and others, but on Sept. 8 he decided he would be heading north and committed to the Sooners.
BREAKING: Four-Star DL Nigel Smith II has Committed to Oklahoma!
The 6’5 253 DL from Melissa, TX chose the Sooners over Ohio State, Penn State, & Texas A&M
Is ranked as a Top 100 Recruit in the ‘24 Class
— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) September 9, 2023
What y’all think bout this Dline room? pic.twitter.com/ooJSvJxVIs
— Nigel Smith 2 (@nigel2mith) June 18, 2023
“It felt like a great Christian atmosphere,” Smith said. “There was no question of the development on and off the field when he [Coach Venables] was at Clemson. They put people into the league left and right. Also, I know they’re going to develop me as a young man.”
Smith will be playing for a college football blueblood and he will have every opportunity to succeed. Nally believes the sky is the limit for the four-star recruit.
“I have been fortunate enough to coach a few Nigel’s in my days,” Nally said. “Nigel is extremely driven. He already has a plan for when he is an adult and a plan for when he is an older man … But the biggest thing about Nigel is his coachability and who he is as a teammate. He is a fantastic teammate … he is an elite player, but he’s also an elite person.”
Smith’s football journey has been special and he’s accomplished a lot on the gridiron. The game will continue to be a significant part of his life moving forward.
“Right now, it’s my world, I’ve put countless hours into it, I’ll be playing it for another, hopefully at least eight to 10 years,” Smith said. “So it’s going to be a big chunk of my life. So all that work has to mean something for you and right now it’s just a lifestyle to be honest, a complete grind and it has to turn into a lifestyle for you if you want to be great.”