Player Profile Series: S Ryan Smith

With fall camp nearing, the PS staff will profile all 22 projected starters throughout July. Today we take a look at senior safety Ryan Smith.

Ryan Smith

Position: Safety

Size: 5-10, 175

High School: Houston Lamar (TX)

Classification: Senior

2011 Review: Coming off a very impressive sophomore campaign, it seemed as if safeties Ryan Smith and Chris Banjo were poised to create a dynamic duo at safety for the Mustangs in 2011.

They proved to be an adequate last line of defense, however, Smith didn't quite reach his full potential. In his junior year Smith recorded 65 tackles (36 solo) including a 13 tackle outing against Tulsa (who again, put up 177 yards on the ground).

Although Smith increased his number of tackles by almost 20 last year, he had a significant drop off in the turnover production category. Smith didn't record any interceptions and didn't cause or recover any fumbles.

As if it wasn't difficult enough for the Mustang defense to stop the offenses of Southern Miss, TCU and Houston, they ended up having to play Ryan Tannehill and Cyrus Gray's Texas A&M Aggies as well. The Mustangs gave up more than 450 yards of total offense to all of these teams but the more surprising statistic fell in a category more indicative of Smith's play throughout the season.

In 2011, The Mustangs gave up runs of 35 yards or more to five different teams. They also gave up 40-yard catches to seven different teams. Big plays tormented the Mustangs throughout the season and many of these plays were because of faulty secondary play. It is true that Smith stopped a number of would-be-touchdowns, but he also gave up his share of big plays.

2011 Grade: B-

2012 Outlook: Smith, who started 12 games in 2010 and 11 games in 2011, will be going into his senior year as a veteran on the defense and is poised to have a comeback year for the Mustangs.

Smith won't be alongside Banjo anymore so he'll have to really step up in both the rush and pass game and bring leadership to the safety position. There are a number of inexperienced safeties Smith will have to mentor such as Daniel Roundtree, A.J. Justice and first-year starter Jay Scott.

Smith should improve on his play from last year. He will be forced to continue to make tackles and should end top three on the team in that category. As a veteran, the Mustangs need for Smith to take over Banjo's role as the leader of the defense and make momentum-shifting turnovers.

Smith has showed glimpses of his playmaking abilities; this is the year for him to put them on full display.

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