Class Impact: Antonio Smith to Miami

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Stefan Adams

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2020 Vanguard OL Antonio Smith committed to Miami on Sunday after landing an offer at a Junior Day event on campus.


The 6-3 270 pounder is currently unranked in the national rankings. Smith’s commitment puts Category20 at the #2 class ranking on 247Sports and #3 on Rivals.


The Player

Smith is an under the radar prospect that doesn’t attend many camps and doesn’t speak with the media often, so he was a completely unknown quantity to most until Sunday. Smith essentially committed to Miami on the spot over schools like Auburn and Nebraska after receiving his UM offer at junior day this weekend, and he is Butch Barry’s first commitment since arriving as Miami’s new OL coach.

Smith played right tackle for Vanguard last season, but the Canes see him as a center prospect. And that’s a good thing too, as Smith looks awkward with slow footwork getting into his pass sets on the edge, so moving to the interior should help him with his pass protection. Smith is clearly more comfortable as a run blocker at this point in his career, and he shows good awareness in his drive blocks to open lanes for his runner. Smith is a physical roadgrader that relishes the idea of knocking his opponent off their feet, driving his feet through contact, and uses a strong initial punch to get the defender off-balance. He is a "diamond in the rough" type kid right now and I'd like to see how Smith looks at center to make a better evaluation of his future at Miami.


The Class

Smith’s commitment brings the total class numbers to 12 and he is the first offensive lineman in Category20. He was the first player offered that UM pegged as a center all the way, so with his pledge, UM is most likely done looking at centers in this class.


The Team

Miami has struggled with their play up front for years, and now they’ll be losing a two year starter at center heading into the 2019 season. Tyler Gauthier leaves a hole to fill in the middle, and although he was solid overall, Gauthier’s play was far from perfect and he’s certainly not irreplaceable. Miami has been grooming Corey Gaynor as their center of the future for two years now, so he is currently getting the first shot at replacing Gauthier this spring. The Canes have no clear backup on the roster and have been mixing and matching behind Gaynor for now in the hopes that 2019 signee Jakai Clark can come in during the summer ready to play if necessary and solidify that spot.

While Smith will likely be third in line at the position to start 2020, neither option ahead of him is really established at this point and there is plenty of opportunity to earn playing time as a freshman on a UM offensive line that hasn’t proved much over the past 4 years. Smith will have to continue to put on good weight over the next year though, and it would be huge for his chances of playing as a freshman if he was able to enroll early for spring ball. In all likelihood, Smith will wait his turn and then battle with Clark and potentially others to replace Gaynor in 2022.

 

CaneDog66

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Finishes blocks well, I agree his footwork needs to get better but at the Center position it’s not a liability for him. Love his physicality and the way he drives kids backwards and pancakes them. As you said Stefan, a true”diamond in the rough” type player but someone who appears to have great potential in college. All in all I’ve been liking the kids that Coach Barry has been recruiting; all seem to be much more athletic than what we have been recruiting in the past. Hopefully along with coaching technique Coach Barry can produce some solid line play for us in 2019 and beyond, although given his pedigree he might not last long in Coral Gables.
 
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