Auburn, Ala.--Auburn wide receiver Jason Smith made just one catch for seven yards in his first game with the Tigers, but it was a play that didn’t count that showed just what the coaches have been talking about with the former quarterback signee.
A dynamic athlete that made the move to wide receiver early in the spring after signing as a quarterback out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Smith got behind the Louisville defense in the third quarter and caught a perfect strike from Jeremy Johnson for what was at the time at 56-yard touchdown strike. However, Auburn was called for holding and the play was brought back, but it showed exactly why Smith has a chance to be a huge part of the offense for the Tigers moving forward this season.
“He is electric,” Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said. “When he has that ball in his hands, he can really do something. I think he made an unbelievable route. At the top of the route, he leaned it and kept running through the football.
“He is a guy who is getting more and more comfortable in the offense. So definitely, we will see more of Jason Smith each game.”
An additional role for Smith could be in the role that Ricardo Louis has primarily taken over the last two seasons as Auburn’s speed back. With Smith’s ability to make plays in the open field and his quarterback background, he’s someone that could definitely play a bigger part in the running game down the road.
That may not be the only additional use for Smith with the possibility that he could still see time at quarterback. Using a wildcat quarterback at times in his career as a coach, Malzahn said that’s something they’ll look at with Smith but not so much that it takes away from his development as a wide receiver.
“We may have a package for him,” Malzahn said of Smith at quarterback. “He’s comfortable there, but it is kind of that balance. We would like his role to be bigger in the receiver position.
“It is kind of that balance that you just have to figure out what is best to do. As the season goes on, he gives us a lot of flexibility.”
Smith and the Tigers take on Jacksonville State in the home opener on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network.