Chad Simmons

UNC Pledge Tyler Smith's Season in Limbo

Tyler Smith injured his knee on Friday night.

North Carolina pledge Tyler Smith unfortunately finds himself in a familiar, ominous position. The four-star wide receiver is spending the first half of this week waiting on the outcome of an MRI, which could end his final -- and second consecutive -- high school season prematurely.

"We'll find out Tuesday," Smith said. "We're going to go to the doctor and get [an MRI] just to see. Coach [Kyle] Hockman just wanted me to get [my knee] checked out to see what's wrong. They're not quite sure what it might be, but we're just hoping that it's nothing serious and I'll come back and play soon."

Playing against nationally ranked Loganville (Ga.) Grayson on Friday night, Smith, 5-foot-10, 170-pounder from Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern, went down untouched during a third quarter punt return. 

"I caught [the punt], I was going right," Smith said. "I saw a hole open up and tried to plant and go left. And my knee just bent in."

A year ago, Smith tore the ACL in his left knee. Accordingly, when his right knee buckled, his first instinct was to fall down as a precaution.

"Even if it wasn't anything, I just wanted to go down, because I didn't want to injury it more," Smith said.

Before suffering the injury, Smith returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown. In the game prior -- McEachern's opener two weeks earlier -- he pulled in eight catches for 82 yards and a pair of scores.

"My season was actually going great," Smith said with an incredulous laugh. "I was happy with it. The goal was to play as hard as I can without getting hurt. We were doing that at first, but now it's all in God's hands."

Although hopeful the injury isn't as serious as assumed, Smith has come to terms that his high school career might be over.

"It's frustrating not being out there with my team," Smith said. "But, whatever God wants. I just have to keep fighting [and] come back next year."

Expectedly, UNC has been supportive. Since suffering the injury, Smith heard from both Gunter Brewer, UNC's wide receivers coach, and Tray Scott, his primary recruiter.

"They just told me we have to get it back right, come back, and get ready for college," Smith said.

Also, several UNC pledges have reached out to Smith, specifically Jake Lawler

"They just told me to get better and keep them updated on what's going on," Smith said.

Smith was able to distract himself from the injury on Saturday night when he traveled to the Georgia Dome for UNC's season opener. However, he left at halftime to beat traffic.

"We played hard," Smith said. "We just couldn't put them away. We kept them in the game and gave them too many chances."

Smith was happy to see UNC bring its opener to his home state.

"I kind of wish they would have waited until next year, so that I could have played," Smith said with a chuckle. 

Although he's not an early enrollee, Smith is working on scheduling an in-season official visit to UNC. He also plans to visit unofficially before that, but plans have yet to be established.

"We want to get up there as much as we can," Smith said.

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