College football locals: South's Luke Smith transfers from Navy to Jacksonville State

South Fort Myers senior football players, from left, Luke Smith, Dallas Crawford and Sammy Watkins pose for photos during national signing day on Feb. 2, 2011 in the school gymnasium. Smith signed with Navy; Crawford signed with Miami and Watkins signed with Clemson. Kevin Johnson/Staff

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South Fort Myers senior football players, from left, Luke Smith, Dallas Crawford and Sammy Watkins pose for photos during national signing day on Feb. 2, 2011 in the school gymnasium. Smith signed with Navy; Crawford signed with Miami and Watkins signed with Clemson. Kevin Johnson/Staff

Tight end Luke Smith picks up yards after a catch for the White team while Red team linebacker Fabian Afanador moves in for a tackle during South Fort Myers' Red-White game on May 21, 2010. Kevin Johnson/Staff

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Tight end Luke Smith picks up yards after a catch for the White team while Red team linebacker Fabian Afanador moves in for a tackle during South Fort Myers' Red-White game on May 21, 2010. Kevin Johnson/Staff

— Luke Smith has a new home.

The former South Fort Myers High tight end will start summer classes at Jacksonville State University on Monday, less than a month after he opted to leave Navy.

Smith said JSU and Eastern Kentucky offered him full scholarships. He picked JSU during a three-day visit this week to the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) school in Jacksonville, Ala.

“I loved it,” Smith said. “It’s pretty big football. They play Arkansas and Florida. I like the facilities and I like what they offered me. The coaches are all good guys. I like them a lot.”

Smith will enter JSU as a true freshman with four years of eligibility.

Fifteen months ago Smith was part of South Fort Myers’ Big Three when he signed with Navy as Dallas Crawford (Miami) and Sammy Watkins (Clemson) signed next to him.

Smith spent the 2011-12 academic year at Navy’s prep school in Newport, R.I. He said it was a positive experience, but decided to make a change.

“I could deal with the military stuff; it was just the academics. It was real tough,” said Smith, who noted that he had calculus, chemistry, physics and English in the same semester.

Smith is thrilled that JSU -- which won a share of the Ohio Valley Conference last season -- plans to use him as a tight end.

“I feel it’s a better fit for me rather than having to put on so much weight (for tackle),” said Smith, who is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds.

Smith said Navy was grooming him to be an offensive tackle, which is where he played nine games last season for the prep school.

Overall, Smith said the time he spent with Navy was beneficial and he has no regrets.

“It was a very good experience,” he said. “It taught me a lot about myself and what I can and what I can’t do. It prepared me a lot. I’m not taking this (past) year as a loss at all. I gained so much.”

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