Name: Eric Smith
Hometown: Decatur, GA
24/7: 86, three stars; #71 OT, GA #70
ESPN: 74, three stars; #100 OT, GA #114, SE #467
Scout: two stars
Other offers: North Carolina, Central Florida, Florida Int'l, Middle Tennessee
Even before Brad Henson's spy-games flip to North Carolina, the coaching staff was out looking for an extra offensive lineman to help fill out the class. Losing Henson made getting one pretty much imperative, and thus it was a bit of a relief when Eric Smith signed on about a week later. In truth, since UNC was Smith's other primary suitor, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some relation between Henson's switch and Smith's commitment.
Smith is one of those guys whose junior year didn't really get him noticed. His school is definitely on the radar of coaches in the region - he had teammates that signed with SEC schools in 2012 - so that's not it. Whatever the reason, his recruitment consisted of Sun Belt and I-AA schools until the end of the fall, when UVA and UNC came through with offers and a few other decent-sized programs at least started showing a little interest.
I hate to try and evaluate Smith in relation to Henson - it's only natural, but it's not really fair. We'll make this point though: Henson was never going to be anything but an interior lineman, whereas Smith has the size for tackle. I wouldn't say "prototypical" because at 6'5" he'd be the shortest of our tackles, and all the linemen we have listed at 6'5" have been moved inside - Conner Davis, Ryan Doull, etc. But Smith is pretty quick. Most of his highlight tape has him going up against guys that range from smaller to much smaller, so I don't take away anything about his strength, but he moves quick for a big guy and blocks well while in motion. That should be a point in favor of tackle.
The scouting services are pretty blah on his talents, which isn't surprising since you don't suddenly find unrecruited four-stars in November and December. ESPN's scouting report uses the phrase "flashes the ability to..." three times and "demonstrates the ability to...." once, all of which is scoutspeak for "between occasionally and sometimes." There's definitely work to be done here.
Plus with Morgan Moses coming back, and Kelby Johnson and Jay Whitmire ready to figure heavily into the plans for the O-line, and Michael Mooney and Sean Karl coming off redshirt years, there is more than enough playable depth at tackle. Smith is going to redshirt. As do most offensive line freshmen, but Smith is even more of a lock than usual. He's similar in many ways to our other 2013 tackle prospect, Sadiq Olanrewaju, but I think, just in looking at pictures (which are kind of old) Olanrewaju has the more college-ready physique. (Both have to put on 20 pounds, though, so, not by much.) Smith isn't the kind of prospect who's going to challenge for playing time right off the bat, and will head into the pipeline and hopefully emerge in a couple years as a field-ready player. I'm just happy we even have a pipeline, though; it's better than the alternative.