Class Impact: Keontra Smith to Miami

Class Impact: Keontra Smith to Miami

Stefan Adams
2019 Chaminade-Madonna S Keontra Smith flipped his pledge from Kentucky and committed to the Canes on Sunday for Mother’s Day.

The 5-11, 195-pounder is currently a 4-star in the national rankings. According to the 247Sports Composite, Smith is the #220 player nationally, #13 S in the country, and the #35 player in the Sunshine State. His commitment moves Miami’s class ranking up to 4th on 247Sports and 5th on Rivals.

The Player

Although Smith has played all around the defensive backfield for Chaminade, and even has experimented with playing linebacker this camp season, Miami is recruiting Smith as a safety prospect. Smith is well-built safety that has most recently combine tested extremely well. Manny Diaz and Ephraim Banda love what he can do as a box safety and he's a very good fit for what they're trying to do on defense. Smith is actually in the “striker” mold, a new, hybrid LB/S position in the UM defense, as his strength is coming downhill and making plays in the run game, while also possessing the athleticism to be a true asset in coverage. However, as of now, the Canes plan to deploy him as a traditional safety.

A punishing hitter, once he reads run, Smith doesn’t hesitate to explode through the line and make the stop. He’s an excellent form tackler and is elite at disguising his coverages and toying with high school QB’s; Smith makes it hard to distinguish if he’s blitzing or dropping back. Smith allows the QB’s eyes and pattern recognition to carry him around the field. Ideally, he’d be a little taller and is a bit undersized height-wise, but that shouldn’t hold him back much at the college level if he develops the rest of his game properly.

The Class

Smith's commitment brings the total class numbers to 13, and he is the Canes first take at both DB and safety. The Canes need to up their raw numbers at the position in this class with both starters due to graduate and only three returning players; as such the preferred number would be to take three, but the Canes would be fine with two elite prospects.

The Canes top priority at safety continues to be Wellington (FL) 4-star Mark-Antony Richards. The UM legacy wants to take his time with the process, but Miami has put themselves in a great position to land his commitment. An issue here is that Richards is not a sure bet to end up as a safety and really loves playing offense, so Miami will likely take him as an athlete and try to get one or two other surefire safeties on board in case Richards develops into an offensive weapon.

UM is also heavily involved with St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) 4-star Jordan Battle and Lakeland (FL) 4-star Brendan Gant. Battle has been a beast on the spring camp scene and has UM in his top 5, although everyone is chasing Ohio State for his services currently. Gant is an interesting case as he recently decommitted from Alabama and his recruitment seems like it will come down to one of the “Big 3” in-state programs.

If Miami misses on the above players, names to keep an eye on at safety are Heard County (GA) 3-star Aaron Beasley and Pedro Menendez (FL) 3-star Kenny Logan. Beasley was recently offered just 2 weeks back and not much is known about his UM interest, while Logan was ready to commit when he got his offer four months back. Logan’s been quiet since then, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Miami accept his commitment if some of the other dominoes at safety start falling in other schools’ favor.

The Team

Next year in 2019, Miami loses established starters Jaquan Johnson and Sheldrick Redwine to graduation and only Robert Knowles, Amari Carter, and Gurvan Hall return at safety. Miami is hoping Carter and Hall have developed enough by then to handle full-time starting roles, with Knowles acting as an experienced senior backup.

While that has the potential to be a more than solid top 3, there is absolutely nothing behind them. Smith (or whoever else in his class) will have to come in ready to play, because the Hurricanes will hope to get a few quality reps from their fourth safety, and Smith could even see time in third down nickel/dime packages in his freshman season. Smith will use these backup reps to become comfortable in college and when Carter leaves after the 2020 season, Smith will be counted on to provide starter-level contributions.


Comments (17)

Don't be surprised to see Derrick Smith return to safety in 2019 at least as a backup to Hall. I think the Striker is there to get him on the field and see if Finley can also contribute. But don't be surprised to see Finley, Wilder, and Solomon take on the Striker duties in 2019 to free up Derrick Smith to go back to his natural FS spot if necessary.

Meanwhile Keontra will join with Carter and Knowles to form a balanced 3 deep at strong safety.
We all thought that either Blades or Frierson would end up at safety eventually. Depending on who is ready to slide into that roll one of them may need to take that on
I LOVE how Blades consistently punks receivers out after winning battles on the camp highlights I have seen. It may draw flags here and there but I think he gets in kids heads. True throwback Cane. Hopefully he has the athletic ability to stay at corner.
Blades play corner with that confidence and swagger
We just don't seem to be able to lock down our top SoFl DB prospects. We should be able cherry pick our backyard, but 2-3 top DB's go elsewhere every year. We on edge this year for Stevenson, Battle and Davis.
Nice Job Stefan, he looks like a great one.