Despite missing all of spring practices due to an unspecified health issue, Trey Smith is still viewed as one of the top offensive linemen in all of college football.
Smith was a five-star offensive lineman coming out of high school in the 2017 recruiting class, and he lived up to that hype as a true freshman last year. He was voted a Freshman All-American and an All-SEC performer by various outlets after the 2017 season ended. And it looked like he was geared up for a repeat performance in 2018.
Then the spring came, and news came out that Smith would be missing spring practices due to an undisclosed health concern. Now it appears as though Smith will be able to make it back to Tennessee’s active roster this fall, and he’ll be arguably the most talented player on the Vols’ team this season.
Earlier this offseason, one outlet listed Smith as the No. 1 offensive tackle in college football heading into the 2018 season despite Smith only playing a handful of games at tackle last season. This week, another outlet is expecting big things from Tennessee’s rising sophomore.
College Football News released a list of their top 30 offensive guards and centers heading into the football season, and they placed Trey Smith at No. 9 on that list.
“Is he healthy enough? If he is, go ahead and put him higher,” writes Pete Fiutak of College Football News. “Is he going to work at tackle or guard? He was one of the few bright spots for the Vol offense last season as the top blocker, but he was out all spring with a medical problem. Expected to be back, if he is, and if all is well, the 6-6, 320-pound all-star will be the star of the offense no matter where he plays.”
Smith was the only offensive lineman to start all 12 games for the Vols, and he excelled as both a guard and a tackle. He started the season at guard but moved over to tackle during the last few games of the season because of injuries to UT’s other linemen.
The only two SEC linemen to place ahead of Smith on College Football News’ list were Arkansas senior guard Hjalte Froholdt (6th) and Alabama senior center Ross Pierschbacher (2nd). Wisconsin senior guard Michael Deiter was ranked No. 1. Smith was one of just two sophomores in the top 10, the other being Ohio State’s Michael Jordan.
As long as he’s healthy and can go through fall camp, Smith should be just as good — if not better — than he was as a true freshman last year. And that would be good news for a Tennessee offensive line in desperate need of improvement.