A Scout.com three-star out of Gadsden City High School (Gadsden, Ala.), Smith was ranked as the No. 59 tight end in the nation for the class of 2009. Primarily a tight end in high school, he said his redshirt freshman season has helped him make the jump from offense to defense.
"It's helped me grow a lot and learn a lot of the schemes on the defensive side. It's helped me a lot with my game," Smith told CUTigers in a recent interview.
Clemson returns plenty of experience at defensive end in Da'Quan Bowers, Andre Branch, Malliciah Goodman and Kourtnei Brown at defensive end. But Ricky Sapp and Kevin Alexander are gone, which could open the door to Smith for playing time.
"I like the rotation because a lot of people get to play. When other people get tired, they get a break. I hope I can get some playing time," Smith said.
Defensive ends coach Chris Rumph believes Smith has an advantage as a defensive end because of his offensive background.
"If he takes the knowledge that he's learned on offense and knows what he's looking for, he can translate that to defense, understand what the offensive guys are trying to do and what they are looking for," Rumph said. "I think he can take advantage of that, just from a knowledge standpoint."
Last fall, Smith continued to work on the intricacies of the position, learning the proper hand placement and foot work. The work actually began shortly after he signed with Clemson last February.
"When I was still in high school, I worked with coach (Ali) Smith a lot using my hands and my footwork," Smith said.
He weighed 225 when he arrived at Clemson. Now, than a year later, he's already added close to 10 pounds with hopes of getting his weight up closer to 240.
Rumph concedes that Smith's height (6-2) and weight makes him a little smaller than most defensive ends.
"Bigger isn't always better," Rumph said matter-of-factly.
With so many veterans returning, Smith is looking to find his niche and work his way into the rotation.
"I hope to get some playing time. I'm going to work hard this spring to try and earn me a job," Smith said.
Smith hoping to provide depth on DL
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