Vols offensive lineman considered top 20 player in college football

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    Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

    It’s been an offseason full of accolades and recognition for Tennessee senior left guard Trey Smith.

    The Jackson, Tennessee native has been named to five preseason All-American teams (Associated Press, Athlon, Phil Steele, Sporting News and CBSSports.com). He’s also a member of the Outland and Wuerffel Trophy watch lists.

    One would consider Smith one of the best players in college football when examining his resume. ESPN recently confirmed that belief, ranking Smith as one of the 50 best players in college football — the 16th-best player in the sport to be exact.

    “You can play the what-if game if you want, wondering how much better Smith would be if blood clots hadn’t caused him to miss so much time throughout his career, buy you’re missing the point,” ESPN wrote about Smith. “Despite a potentially career-threatening condition, he has proved to be one of the best interior lineman in the country after not allowing a single sack last season.”

    Smith opted to return for his senior season on Rocky Top rather than enter the 2020 NFL Draft in an effort to obtain his degree and improve upon his draft stock.

    Smith is coming off a great 2019 campaign. As a junior, he returned from blood clots in his lungs that sidelined him as a sophomore. He didn’t skip a beat as he anchored Tennessee’s improved offensive line to earn All-SEC First Team honors behind 12 starts in 13 games. Smith was named a finalist for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award following the season and was the winner of the inaugural Fritz Pollard Trophy, given to the collegiate player who has “exemplified extraordinary courage, community values, and exceptional performance on the field.”

    The 6-foot-6, 335-pound offensive linemen signed with Tennessee as the No. 1 overall player in the country according to ESPN’s recruiting rankings in the 2017 class. Smith earned All-State honors from 2015-17 as a five-star at the University School in Jackson. He was also a two-time Tennessee Mr. Football winner.

    As a true freshman, Smith started all 12 games for the Vols. He went on to earn All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Freshman Team honors, in addition to Freshman All-American honors from several organizations. Smith became the first Vol true freshman to start at left tackle in over 30 years when did so against Southern Miss. He led the Vols with 55 knockdowns and finished as the SEC’s top-rated freshman offensive player (80.6) according to PFF College.

    Tennessee is scheduled to begin its season on Sept. 26 against South Carolina on the road. The Vols will return home a week later to face Missouri in their home-opener.

    Ben McKee
    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He grew up an Army brat and lived in Alabama for a bit, but he bleeds orange. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also a co-host on the RTI Live Show and RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.