Today, TechSideline.com’s prospect profile series continues for the Class of 2019. We’re taking a look at another top defensive target for the Hokies in linebacker/defensive end Brandon Smith.
Smith is a 6-foot-5, 215-pound recruit out of Louisa County High School in Mineral, Va. He lives between Richmond and Charlottesville, and is roughly three hours from Blacksburg, so distance certainly won’t be an issue. Let’s take a look at how the major recruiting networks view Smith.
Rivals: Four-star defensive end, No. 53 overall, No. 2 in Virginia
247Sports: Four-star defensive end, No. 36 overall, No. 1 in Virginia
ESPN: Four-star linebacker, No. 14 overall, No. 1 in Virginia
Smith is clearly one of the best recruits in the nation, and everyone has taken notice. His offer list stands at 27 so far, with Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State and Georgia all pulling the trigger and offering a scholarship.
A recruit doesn’t acquire an offer list like that without reason. Smith is a talented prospect, one that could make an impact early in his career.
First things first — Smith has an incredible frame. At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, he has a potential NFL-build, and can easily add weight at the college level. His combination of size and athleticism projects him as either a defensive end or a linebacker at the college level.
Smith’s athleticism allows him to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. From his linebacker position, he can easily get to either sideline to tackle running backs, and has no problem defending the flats in the passing game. He has good instincts and gets to the ball quickly. Smith shows the ability to read gaps and fight through blockers to get to ball carriers, which is where the real fun begins.
Once Smith arrives at the ball carrier, he packs a punch. I haven’t been covering recruiting long, but Smith has one of the heaviest shoulders I’ve seen. He regularly dishes out big hits, whether they be on quarterbacks, running backs, or receivers. Once Smith gets into a college weight room, those hits will be even harder.
Smith has two questions he’ll have to answer at the college level — both of which are related to his eventual position. If Smith stays at linebacker, will he be able to keep up in man coverage, especially against a speedy running back? Again, Smith is a great athlete, but in college, almost every single running back is also extremely athletic. It shouldn’t be an issue, because Smith will become an even better athlete as he matures, but it is a question that will need to be answered.
The next question is, if Smith were to move down to defensive end, does he have the moves and ability to disengage from college offensive linemen? As a linebacker, Smith is often shooting gaps and having to brush off engaged defenders to make the play. But in college, if Smith is on the line of scrimmage, can he develop a set of moves to disengage and make plays?
Generally, recruits of Smith’s caliber are able to answer these types of questions. He’s a consensus four-star recruit for a reason, and I have little doubt that Smith will translate easily to the college game. I see some Tremaine Edmunds in his game, and if he ends up anywhere close to Edmunds, Smith will be an excellent college player.
Virginia Tech has been a factor in Smith’s recruitment since the beginning. The Hokies were the second school to offer him a scholarship, only behind Virginia. It seems like Smith is keeping the Hokies in his top group and has been to campus on multiple occasions, including Virginia Tech’s game vs. Clemson last season.
The Hokies will have to fend off several out-of-state suitors if they are to earn Smith’s signature. He has visited tons of schools so far, and Alabama and Penn State seem to be serious contenders. It’s still early in the process, but Virginia Tech should make the final cut for Smith. After that, it’s anybody’s guess.
Neither defensive end or linebacker is currently a position of need for Virginia Tech, so the Hokies can be selective at these spots in the Class of 2019. Smith is a recruit that the Hokies would take without hesitation, no matter what position he projects as. He’s the type of prospect that not only elevates your overall talent level, but your recruiting profile as well.