Recruitment: "It all started the summer heading into my junior year," Smoral reflected of his UNC recuritment. "I was at the East Coast Professional Showcase and I think that was the second time that they had seen me. I went right from there to Chapel Hill for a visit. I told my Dad that it was the first visit I took and it was the place I wanted to go. I went on some other visits to make sure I was making the right decision and took another visit in the fall. I just wanted to be a Tar Heel."
His connection and comfort level with the coaching staff was where his interest in UNC really took off. "That was one of the biggest things," Smoral recollected. "Coach Forbes I talked to a ton and I talked with Coach Fox a lot. But I really related with them well and they are easy guys to talk to. I feel that they are very genuine and they care about you as a person. Probably one of the biggest factors was in the coaches."
Another selling point for North Carolina was watching the first round draft picks that have come out of Boshamer Stadium. "Seeing all the great arms that come through Chapel Hill and seeing how these guys developed and not being over-used going deep into the post-season and going to Omaha," he said. "I think that has some to do with their strength and conditioning and their program overall."
Smoral committed to UNC over Virginia, Louisville, Texas and South Carolina.
Why North Carolina? "The combination of the coaches, academics and the baseball program," Smoral said. "Being comfortable with the coaches was huge but being able to go to a program where I can go to have an opportunity to go to Omaha and win a national championship was huge for me."
Scouting Report: Smoral is a hard throwing left handed pitcher who dominates right handed batters. He throws his four seamed fastball in the mid 90s from a smooth mid 3/4 arm angle release. He has recently added a slider that projects to be a plus pitch in addition to a curve and low 80s changeup. The main thing that most scouts agree on is that Smoral has come a long way in the past two years and projects to be even better as he fills out and continues on this progression.
Coaches Quotes: "He is without a doubt one of the hardest workers that I have ever had the opportunity of coaching," stated Solon High head coach Damien Kopkas. "He has been given some God given talent with his size and ability but it is never something he has gotten cocky about or taken for granted. He shows up and knows what he needs to do and to continue to stay in shape and to continue to improve. He goes about his business and knows his stretching program and to go in and work out and get his body into shape to improve at this time of the year. He is always the first ones there and the last ones to leave. He is very, very coachable and willing to work on certain things, tinker and work around different things. I think it is a situation where it would be easy for him to say, 'you know what I have come this far and getting all this publicity and whatever it is and I don't need to work or improve' and that is just not the type of kid that he is. He always knows there are things that he needs to improve and get better on and he is willing to work on achieving it.
"I remember when I took this job when he was a sophomore," Kopkas continued. "I believe at that point I think he was still a little bit of a thrower and not a pitcher yet. He would come in and try to throw the ball through the wall. He would get a little bit rattled at times. It has been such a pleasure to see him mature over the past few years. I can picture right now the playoff games that he threw last year... You could see him step off the mound, catch his breath and collects his composure and get back on the mound. You can see this killer mentality and a bulldog look come over him and he finds another gear and tries to work hard to get outs. He knows there is nothing he can do to change what has already happened but try to affect what is going to happen. He has that demeanor on the mound that 'I am not going to let what happens around me affect what I need to do.'
"He is a very well rounded kid. He understands that right now school is his top priority and baseball falls in below that. Obviously he is getting a lot of additional publicity but you would not know that to talk to him."
Future Plans: A flamethrowing left handed pitcher who is filling out at 6-8 and has command of four pitches does not come along every day and Major League scouts, crosscheckers and front offices have taken notice. "I have talked to a lot of teams but my dad handles most of it in talking to them," Smoral said. "I just focus on getting ready for the spring, getting stronger and keeping my grades up. We have talked to a bunch of them but right now I am looking forward to going to North Carolina. It will take a lot to draw me away from such a great opportunity."
Smoral is uncertain of where he would have to be selected in the draft to sway him from attending the University of North Carolina but understands that it would have to be in the first round with the new signing rules in place for the 2012 draft. "It is a tough question but it would have to be early and the right situation overall," he said. "It has to be a well thought out decision. [The rule change] definitely is a big deal. It changes it a lot. A lot more kids are going to go to school. Late in first round one of the caps is 1.6 million where there were kids in the second or third round that got that. Look at Bryan Brickhouse, he got that. Look at Dylan Maples in the 14th round. You are not going to see that anymore and I think a lot more people are going to go to school which is good for college baseball."
The North Carolina coaching staff realizes that Smoral is a longshot to matriculate to Chapel Hill, but just in case they already have plans for the mammoth southpaw. "We have talked about it a little bit," Smoral said. "Obviously I want to come there and they want me to be a starting pitcher for them. Once you get to campus you have to prove yourself to the rest of the guys competing out there. There is no slot you are going to go right into. You have to earn it and work for it.
"For my college career I want to get a great education and I want to win a national championship. I love watching Omaha and I want to go and live the experience. That is a dream and goal of mine. I want to play for a school like North Carolina and become a better baseball player and become a better pitcher - getting stronger and developing as a player and person."
Smoral said he has an early interest in UNC's Business School but is looking forward to exploring his academic options.