Butch Jones Praises “Difference Maker” Trey Smith

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    Trey Smith is living up to the hype so far. At least that’s the early report from Butch Jones.

    When Jones sat down on the set of SEC Now in Hoover on Monday, he had high praise for the nation’s No. 1 recruit.

    “I told my coaching staff that we have to be careful we don’t put too much pressure on this young man,” Jones replied when asked about the former five-star recruit. “He’s still 17-years-old.”

    But according to Jones, Smith hasn’t showed his youth. In an offensive line room that’s filled with veteran starters, Smith is standing out.

    Not to mention, Jones says Smith earned a 3.5 GPA in his first semester at UT this summer.

    “At 17 he’s still a difference maker,” Jones said. “He’d sit on this set and be the nicest gentleman you’d ever meet. When you step on the field he turns into a different individual.”

    Off the field, the returns on Smith are great. On the field, the expectations are sky high. Smith comes to Knoxville as Jones’ most highly touted recruit in his tenure at UT. Aside from him, UT’s 2017 class looks a little weaker than usual according to recruiting websites. But don’t tell that to Jones.

    To him, Smith isn’t the saving grace of a mediocre class. He’s the leader of a group that is “different.”

    “I think he’s really elevated the toughness in that (offensive line) room,” Jones said. “But I think our older players have really done a great job of galvanizing our younger players on the pressure and expectations. This freshman class is different and that’s good to see.”

    Smith will most likely begin the season on the bench, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a big impact. Tennessee’s offensive line is without a doubt its deepest group on the roster. Having a five-star coming off the bench won’t be such a bad thing for Coach Jones.