There is a reason Tennessee’s football program released a hype video about a true freshman recently. The Vols were bragging – and I don’t blame them one bit.
There’s nothing wrong with showing off Trey Smith as he lifted weights after enrolling at UT in January. Smith was more a “must-get” for the Vols than Seinfeld was “must-see” TV. Without Smith, Tennessee’s 2017 class wouldn’t have had nearly enough sizzle. With him, it passed muster.
Smith, from Jackson (Tenn.) University School, was ESPN.com’s national No. 1 recruit and was a consensus top-15 prospect. The Vols couldn’t miss on Smith after local receivers Amari Rodgers from Knoxville Catholic and Tee Higgins from Oak Ridge High bolted for Clemson. Credit UT’s staff for convincing Smith that Knoxville was the best place for him despite early interest in Alabama followed by strong looks at Ohio State and Ole Miss.
Admittedly, I was a bit taken aback by seeing a hype video about a freshman. Like any school, UT fans have gotten overly excited about incoming prospects only to be let down. Did the Vols really need to raise the bar of expectation on Smith?
Dontavius Blair is a prime example. Some believed he was the top overall junior college prospect in the nation when he signed with UT from Garden City (Kan.) CC. He was expected to step in and start immediately at left tackle in 2014. At least that’s what fans thought. Instead, Blair redshirted in 2014 and never started a game in 2015. He has since moved onto other things that won’t involve UT football.
UT’s brass must feel certain Smith won’t be a Blair-like bust or they wouldn’t have produced Smith’s video, in which he’s lifting weights and running. That speaks to what UT coaches think of Smith’s character and work ethic.
The video is quite impressive. Smith can power-clean and bench around 300 pounds. Not bad for a player who should be getting fitted for his prom tuxedo.
Smith stepped onto campus with the prototypical SEC offensive lineman body. He was 6 feet 5 and 310 pounds when he signed with UT. He should only get leaner and, perhaps, bigger throughout his career.
The same can’t exactly be said for some of UT’s other offensive linemen. Some recent signees seemed quite light to play in the SEC. There’s an argument to be made that lighter means more mobile, which is a better fit for UT’s system. But it’s nice to have size and mobility. Analysts believe Smith fits that bill.
No offense to some of UT’s recent offensive linemen, but most were overachievers who played because the Vols had no choice. Smith doesn’t seem like that type. He seems like he has all the tools to be an elite offensive lineman. Despite his youth, I’d brag about that as well.
(You can follow Dave Hooker on Twitter @TheDaveHooker)
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