BEAVERTON, Ore. - Trey Smith used The Opening Finals as a two-fold opportunity.
First and foremost the five-star offensive tackle from Jackson, Tenn., saw it as an opportunity to back up previous outings. He punched a second straight invitation to The Opening Finals with a dominant performance at the Chicagoland regional.
Smith also wanted to learn more about himself while competing against top prospects across the board. It was his second straight trip to The Opening Finals.
“I've learned that I have the dog mentality in myself,” Smith said. “In the run game drill, I actually pancaked a couple kids I didn’t really expect. The main thing is I just need to work on my patience, inside hands. I need to keep my hands in a little closer.
“I got a little sloppy here (Sunday). I’m not really sure why, but that’s my fault. I just need to stay patient and not be so aggressive. I don’t need to lunge at people.”
Smith also used the platform of ESPNU’s broadcast of the 7-on-7 tournament to reveal the latest in his recruitment by releasing a top six.
Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Tennessee remaining standing. Smith had offers from dozens of others — Oklahoma, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, USC and Stanford, among others.
But after a series of visits and background research, six made their way toward the top of Smith’s list for some specific reasons.
“Definitely the opportunities after football that the schools have,” Smith said. “Relationship with the coaches, the comfort we felt there. Then just the program success, the success they’ve had the last couple years.”
Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is one of the coaches with which Smith communicates regularly. Smith has taken note of recent success by Hiestand at developing NFL-caliber offensive linemen.
Zack Martin and Ronnie Stanley have both gone in the first round of the NFL Draft in recent years. Chris Watt and Nick Martin were both early round picks too.
“I think he’s one of the better o-line coaches in the country,” Smith said. “He’s a real guy. He doesn’t really BS. He doesn’t really fake anything. He’s just been a great coach. He’s produced great players like Zack Martin in the league. There’s no doubt he’ll continue that greatness.”
Some things about the Irish have stuck with Smith since his visit as well. He made the trek to campus in April.
“Just the tradition value and stuff there,” Smith said. “Not only that, the academic resources they have there and how you can better yourself as a person after football.”
Now as Smith moves forward with his top six, it appears the next move is to make more visits. Tennessee is likely up next.
Smith envisions a winter decision.
“I’ll be good,” Smith said. “I’m probably gonna do it mid-December.”