Ryan Easterling's Scouting Report
Smith is a tough one to gauge because he could very well end up on either side of the ball at the next level. A great athlete who has a cornerback/slot receiver body, he played predominantly on offense this past season at Bolingbrook, but has long been projected to play corner at Illinois. With Reggie Roberson going to West Virginia and Jeff Thomas likely headed to Miami, Smith could get a look on offense.
In a way, the situation is similar to former Illini Steve Hull or even Caleb Day, who saw action on both sides of the ball during their time at Illinois. Both were great overall athletes who took time to settle into a position, but had the versatility, length, speed, and skill to play either side.
Smith is one of the easiest redshirt candidates to spot. Regardless of which position he plays, he must add strength to play in the Big Ten. Smith is a smooth athlete but also must develop a more physical disposition. He’s a redshirt-and-develop guy. - Jeremy Werner
Technically, Ricky Smalling wasn’t the first commit to Lovie Smith. He was “one” of the first to commit because he and Kendall Smith committed simultaneously to Lovie Smith after a spring practice last April. Unlike Smalling, Smith’s only power-five offer was from Illinois so he went a bit under the radar. The biggest question is what position he plays. Illinois would love for him to play defensive back -- likely free safety -- but Smith is not very physical. He’s a more natural wide receiver and can make plays in space but hasn’t faced much press coverage. Few better fit the term “athlete” because Smith seems a bit positionless -- at least as he enters the program -- but he has the tools that intrigue on both sides of the ball.