Roquan Smith picks Georgia nine days after announcing for UCLA

What started as one of UCLA’s most pleasant Signing Day surprises has finally fizzled out. Four-star linebacker Roquan Smith signed with Georgia on Friday, nine days after initially announcing for the Bruins on ESPNU.

His news wasn’t exactly a shocker — not after he essentially accused the UCLA staff of lying to him in an interview with Rivals.com this week. The top prospect out of Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County had yet to sign his letter of intent last Wednesday when news broke that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was leaving the Bruins to become the Atlanta Falcons’ linebackers coach.

After the debacle became a national story, Smith decided to sign a grant-in-aid agreement instead of an NLI. That leaves him the option to change schools without penalty until he enrolls.

UCLA finishes its 2015 class at No. 13 nationally on Rivals.com, and No. 9 on Scout.com.

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Roquan Smith: Jeff Ulbrich said he ‘declined’ Falcons’ offer

Roquan Smith will sign scholarship papers on Friday, but judging from an interview with Rivals.com, the four-star linebacker didn’t sound keen on picking UCLA.

The Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County product had originally committed to the Bruins’ last Tuesday on ESPNU, seemingly capping a huge morning for UCLA. But news of defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich’s job offer from the Atlanta Falcons broke shortly afterward, prompting Smith to hold off on signing his letter of intent — and eventually stepping back to reevaluate UCLA, Georgia, Texas A&M and Michigan.

Smith clearly feels like UCLA wasn’t forthright with him during the recruiting process — and should have notified him of Ulbrich’s potential departure earlier.

From Rivals.com:

“It’s a great school and all of this and that, but Coach Ulbrich did say that Coach Dan Quinn (of the Atlanta Falcons) had called him the night before, but he had declined the job offer. I felt like Coach (Jim) Mora should have hit me up and said there’s potential that Coach Ulbrich may be leaving. Then, they tried to get me to go ahead and send the papers in, but I wasn’t doing it. They tried to get me to send them in at 8 in the morning.”

Asked if he felt misled, Smith said: “I kind of do. For them to be my first offer, yeah. I thought they were keeping it real with me, but you know people are going to lie.”

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When Roquan Smith picks a school, he won’t sign an NLI

There still isn’t a firm timetable on when four-star linebacker Roquan Smith will commit to school, but when that happens, he won’t be signing a National Letter of Intent.

Smith had originally picked UCLA over Georgia on last Wednesday, only to put off his decision after news broke that Bruin defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich would be heading to the Atlanta Falcons. As a precaution “in case something else unexpectedly happens again,” Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County coach Larry Harold told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Smith won’t be signing a letter at all.

That means that the 6-foot, 203-pound prospect will only sign a grant-in-aid agreement, which binds the school to the player — but not vice versa until the player enrolls. It allows coaches to publicly comment on the player, and can also be signed months before National Signing Day (as quarterback Josh Rosen did with UCLA last September). A player can also sign these agreements with multiple schools.

If anything, it’s surprising that more elite football recruits haven’t exercised their leverage and opted for this route, which has been taken more commonly in college basketball.

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UCLA’s Spring Game scheduled for April 25

For those trying to mark their calendars, UCLA’s Spring Game has been set for Saturday, April 25. The time and location have not been announced, and the rest of the Bruins’ spring camp schedule is also not yet released.

Quarterback Josh Rosen will obviously be the main attraction, and is set to compete for the starting spot after enrolling in January along with JUCO transfer offensive tackle Zach Bateman. Of the 2015 recruits that just signed their letters of intent this week, linebacker Joshua Woods and defensive backs Nathan Meadors and Will Lockett are expected to enroll early.

Head coach Jim Mora also said Wednesday that one player he can’t name could potentially participate in spring practices — likely referring to still-undecided four-star linebacker Roquan Smith.

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Roquan Smith in ‘no rush’ to decide on college destination

Roquan Smith is getting a second chance to sort out his recruitment, and he’s going to take his time doing it.

The four-star linebacker’s coach at Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County, Larry Harold, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the decision could take “a week or so” — although the process could stretch on even longer. And while UCLA is still in the running along with Georgia, Texas A&M and Michigan, Smith sounds like he is considering the Bruins under the assumption that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will become the Atlanta Falcons’ new linebackers coach.

Smith had announced for the Bruins over UGA on ESPNU Wednesday morning, only to hear reports of Ulbrich’s potential departure soon after.

Harold, to the AJC:

“It’s not an open recruitment really, it’s just the same four schools and he’s going to take a week or so to decide. He’s going to take this weekend off, spend time with his family and relax, be a teenager. And then next week maybe he’ll start calling some coaches again and rehash it all. … There’s no rush.”

The high school coach spoke about Ulbrich’s decision between UCLA and the Falcons in the past tense — treating it as a done deal rather than an open possibility. He said that although Ulbrich had not officially agreed to a deal, the Bruin defensive coordinator had said “he was strongly considering it.”

The AJC reported in the same article that Ulbrich is in Atlanta today touring the Falcons’ facilities.

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