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Salmen defensive back Eddie Smith, surrounded by his family, announced he will play at Alabama during a National Signing Day news conference Wednesday in Slidell.

Advocate photo by GRANT THERKILDSEN

Salmen cornerback Eddie Smith egged on Nick Saban to do the “Cupid Shuffle” during a recruiting visit.

To Smith, Saban's willingness to do it was proof: It convinced the recruit just how much the Crimson Tide really wanted him.

Even before that, however, Smith felt that if Saban and Alabama came calling, albeit late in the recruiting process, it would be hard to pass on the chance to play for the reigning national champion.

“I think deep down, everybody wants the opportunity to play for the best program in the nation,” said Smith, who made his decision public Wednesday when he signed his National Letter of Intent in a packed cafeteria. “I had a lot of other good choices, but I was still hoping to hear from them.”

As for the impromptu dance with Smith’s family members, which went viral after Smith’s father posted the video on social media: “That sort of sealed the deal,” he said.

It didn’t hurt either that DeVonta Smith of Amite, who caught the winning touchdown pass in the national championship game against Georgia, is Eddie Smith’s cousin.

Eddie Smith, who actually committed two weeks ago but did not announce his decision until Wednesday, said he chose Alabama over Mississippi State.

Smith also strongly considered Tennessee and Missouri after he decommitted from TCU in December.

LSU — which missed out on its top two cornerback targets Wednesday — showed some interest, Eddie Smith Sr. said, but did the Tigers not make an official offer.

“They called a few times and said they were going to offer but never did,” Smith Sr. said. “We finally told them not to call back.”

One of those LSU targets, Patrick Surtain Jr., nation’s No. 1-rated cornerback and the No. 5 prospect overall, signed with Alabama on Wednesday as well.

Smith (6-foot, 180), is a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports, and isn’t even considered one of top 10 players in Louisiana.

But Smith said that doesn’t deter him from believing he can compete with those whose talent level is considered superior to his.

“Everybody’s going to be good no matter where you go,” he said. “I’ve been competing all my life. I’m not worried about it.”

Salmen coach Jerry Leonard had no doubt about Smith’s abilities, or his determination.

“Eddie has a great skill set and has always played with a lot of confidence,” Leonard said. “At Alabam,a he will gain more knowledge and become an even better football player than he is now.

“He’s also a great kid who’s been around our program since he was a ball boy. He’s always had the mentality that no matter what the situation, he can go in and excel.”

Smith goes into a surprisingly open situation in the Alabama secondary, even as a freshman.

The Tide lost starting corners Anthony Averett and Levi Wallace, leaving backups Trevon Diggs and Jared Mayden as the top contenders in the spring.

Junior college transfer Saivon Smith, who started his career as a five-star signee at LSU, is already on campus, and junior Shyheim Carter of Kentwood is in the mix after playing in all 12 games last year.

Along with Surtain, Alabama signed four-star corners Jayln Armour-Davis and Josh Jobe in December.

“Coach Saban told me they thought I was good enough to play at Alabama, but the important thing was that if I felt like I was good enough,” Smith said. “I knew then it was what I wanted to do.”