#11 Dee Smith
Hometown: Florence, AL
Thoughts: As many expected this time last year (myself included) Dee Smith was just too talented to keep off the field. Mid way through the season they began to use his speed and coverage on special teams while mixing him in sparingly at safety. In that limited time (five game span from Samford to Wake Forest) Dee managed to grab seven tackles and an interception. He also managed to bang up his shoulder against Wake, which limited his time the rest of the year. The pre-Fall camp depth chart still shows Dee behind Chucky, which is no surprise, but I’d expect we see him back in coverage more frequently in his Sophomore season than in 2015. One reason of course is because he’s stronger, faster and more knowledgeable than last year, but the main reason is that it appears Grantham has all but said they will run the nickel and dime packages on a regular basis to try and get more speed on the field. When they’ve run those packages in practice Harvey-Clemons almost always slides down into the front as an end or linebacker, thus leaving another void in the secondary which already calls for two safeties and three corners (typically) in that formation. With five members of the secondary on the field, Smith will likely see get into those rotations on a consistent basis.
If you need a third reason to keep Dee on the field (my English teacher said it was always good to provide three examples) it’s because he is a tackling fool. In Petrino’s post practice interview earlier this week he talked about how impressed they were with Smith’s ability to tackle in close quarters or in the open field, calling him one of the best on the team. If you can ‘snipe’ return men on special teams, lock up wideouts in open space, or hit the gaps to bring down running backs with a head of steam, you will more often than not get some decent PT…Smith can do all three. Last year I pegged him as the “next in line” with the other NFL players coming out of the Cardinal secondary the last three or four seasons. After one full season, and some reports out of Fall camp, I’m feeling pretty good about my prognostication. Even if he doesn’t each his vegetables.
We’re eleven days away from football and I’m throwing up tweets with dunks in them, because, well, “Kentucky”.
Also, a great opportunity to harass all the ‘dunksters’ from the gif tournament a few years back. Let ‘em have it folks.