Linebacker Rahshaun “Shaq” Smith is leaving Clemson’s national championship football program to come home to Maryland.
Smith, who was ranked the No. 1 prospect in Maryland as a high schooler, completed his undergraduate degree in parks, recreation and tourism at Clemson and will be immediately eligible to play for football coach Michael Locksley at the University of Maryland.
The move reunites the Baltimore native with Cory Robinson, who coached Smith at both Calvert Hall and St. Frances. Robinson joined Locksley’s staff as defensive passing game coordinator and cornerbacks coach in January.
Smith told The Baltimore Sun in 2014 that Robinson had become a father-figure to him and helped him improve both on and off the field.
Smith started his high school career at Calvert Hall, where he played two seasons before he and his mother moved in 2014 and he attended St. Frances.
Donald Davis, Calvert Hall’s football coach, said Monday that he remembers Smith’s first high school game clearly. He blocked a punt, scored a touchdown and had three sacks, he said. On top of that, Davis said he is a solid kid and great teammate.
Davis said he believes Smith’s move will have a positive effect on the community as a whole.
“Any time guys are homegrown and kids who grow up here are playing for any local institution, there’s excitement and buzz around that because people that grew up with him can watch first hand,” Davis said.
The Maryland football program, specifically, will benefit from an older player with championship experience, he said.
“He’s seen what it takes to climb that mountain,” Davis said. “A lot of good can come out of it.”
As a high schooler, Smith was ranked the No. 1 prospect in Maryland and the No. 6 overall prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, while ESPN ranked him as the No. 1 outside linebacker.
In 2015, Smith finished his high school career at IMG Academy in Florida, and by the time he graduated, he had accumulated 40 offers from FBS schools. He was a five-star recruit out of IMG Academy, according to Rivals.com.
At Clemson, Smith recorded 30 tackles, a sack and an interception over his 213 snaps in 28 games. He played in all 15 games of Clemson’s undefeated 2018 season, including the national championship against No. 1 Alabama.
During the Tigers’ 2019 spring game, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker led all players with seven tackles. Despite positive feedback from the coaching staff, Smith entered the transfer portal in mid-May.
Smith enrolled at Maryland on June 7 as a graduate transfer.
Smith will help fill the void left by the departure of another grad transfer, Tre Watson, who led the Big Ten in tackles last season and signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent. The Terps are waiting on the eligibility this season of Ohio State transfer KeAndre Jones, who filed a hardship waiver with the NCAA to play in 2019.