Alabama got a head start on recruiting one of the top 2017 prospects in Tennessee more than a decade ago.
Trey Smith can’t take an official visit to Tuscaloosa, Ala., until next season. That will be nearly 13 years after his first trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium. The first time he visited Alabama, he was a 5-year-old having the time of his life. His favorite color was red. His favorite animal was an elephant.
“It was a match made in heaven really,” the 4-star offensive lineman told SEC Country. “We got to go on the field after. We went into the locker room and met some of the players. After that, it was like history from there. That’s how it all really started.”
Smith got the first-class treatment thanks to some family friends.
“They were die-hard Alabama fans and their son went to Alabama,” the 6-foot-5 ½ 288-pound junior from University School (Jackson, Tenn.) said. “He was a manager for their football team.”
Now, as the No. 10 junior offensive tackle in the nation, Smith has a chance to be a part of ‘Bama’s football team as a player and not just a fan. Alabama is one of 19 teams that have offered Smith a scholarship. More could come soon. Smith said he had well over 130 pancake blocks just after the midway point of this season.
“It’s been a pretty dominant year I guess you could say of this season,” he said.
As for the biggest improvement in his game from 2014 to 2015, Smith said, “I think the most obvious one is power. I feel a lot stronger this year … Last year, I was just trying to see what I could do. Now, this year, I’m just trying to see if I can throw people. I want to see my technique and just see how dominant I can be this year.”
Despite his athletic advantage, Smith has still been challenged this season. He’s played defensive tackle extensively for the first time in his career.
“It’s been a little bit crazy,” he said.
Smith declined to name a leader or even a top group of schools vying for his services. Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn and Ole Miss, which have all offered Smith a scholarship, are widely thought of as well-placed in the running.
Smith said his mind is constantly changing when it comes to choosing a college. He said he plans to narrow his list of finalists sometime during his senior season. Obviously, he is a key target for Tennessee.
“I think Tennessee is a great school,” said Smith, who is the No. 4 prospect in the 2017 Tennessee class. “They’re going in the right direction. They have a lot of good young players. Tennessee is definitely going to be a threat, for me, I think for SEC Championship banners in the next couple of years, if not the national championship.
“I think if they can just tie it all together for one good year, one solid year, they can honestly go undefeated all the way. I think coach Jones has the program going in the right way.”
Academics will play a big role in Smith’s decision. A dedicated student, he has scholarship offers from academic heavyweights like Stanford and Vanderbilt.
“It’s extremely important,” Smith said. “My family has always stressed academics.”
Smith’s competitive streak may have began in academia long before he became a star on the football field. For years, he’s been trying to best his sister in schoolwork.
“To be honest with you it’s hard to follow up against her,” Smith said with a chuckle. “I’m not bad, but I’m not my sister. She’s in the 4.0’s (grade point average). My dad stresses it a lot because football can end tomorrow. You could have a freak accident. You never know. As long as you have academics, you can go anywhere.
Smith said he’s only been able to manage a 3.7 GPA. Given the 130-plus pancake blocks, college football recruiters can live with that.