ADDISON, Ill. - Trey Smith headed to Chicagoland determined to let nothing get in the way of another trip to Nike.
Smith earned an invitation to The Opening Finals last summer as an underclassman. Getting there again required the four-star offensive tackle from Jackson, Tenn., to turn in a dominant performance Saturday at a regional camp in the Chicago suburbs.
“I got mine last year and my whole mentality was to come back and get it again,” Smith said. “Be a two-time stud. Not just a player, be a stud.”
He did just that, sending most challengers in the one-on-one portion back to the line a loser. Not even a bloody nose could keep Smith from earning another trip to Oregon.
Smith matched intensity with aggression en route to the Final 5 competition at the end of camp.
“I’m vicious,” Smith said. “Everybody’s asking me why I look so crazy. This is football. It’s a dog sport, dog mentality. You’ve got to come out there and bring it.”
Getting to the finals in July allows Smith a platform to shed some light on his recruitment.
Scholarship offers are in from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Tennessee and USC, among several others.
Smith kicked off spring visits with a trip to Notre Dame in early April. Stops at Ohio State and Ole Miss (twice) have since followed.
“The main thing is just coaches right now,” Smith said. “I have a good relationship with all my coaches, honestly. Some are my recruiters and some are the o-line coaches. Just the places I’ve been to, we have good relationships.”
Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand continues his pursuit of Smith, who watched last month as former Irish offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley went in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Hiestand’s reputation as a developer of talent has resonated.
“Excellent offensive line play,” Smith said. “Just over the years and it’s being proved every year with that first round draft pick — Ronnie Stanley, Nick Martin, Zack Martin. Hiestand is producing studs man.”
Smith took stock of Hiestand as a coach during his spring ball visit. He also noted how the current crop of players continues their pursuit of improvement.
“It’s the drive of their offensive linemen,” Smith said. “Everyone is on a journey, on a mission to get to the next level. It’s excellent.”
Heading into the summer, Smith plans to take more unofficial visits but doesn’t yet have a list of destinations. What he does know is it’s almost time to start officially cutting the list down to a more manageable size.
Smith envisions a cut to eight or even five in July.
“Right now I want to release a top (list),” he said. “It’ll be at The Opening. Then I’ll actually make my decision in mid-December.”