As a Regional Recruiting Analyst for Scout.com there was a few months of disbelief watching Cornwall Central High School Tyree Smallwood not have other offers than Syracuse, however after committing to the Orange schools started coming after the 5-foot-11, 165-pound speedster. His size gets questioned, his level of competition gets question, but from the first time I reviewed his junior highlights before he became a part of the Syracuse recruiting class, I had no questions.
Smallwood is a dangerous running back, point blank. Wasted steps are one of my pet peeves and Smallwood doesn't take many of them at all. He gets the ball from the quarterback and immediately picks his rushing lane on the cutback. He hits the hole hard, accelerates through it and does a good job making the first man miss with an array of moves. He can juke defenders, use a spin move, a stutter, head fakes…whatever he needs to do. The fact that he's so decisive and through the line of scrimmage so quickly is what makes him so hard to tackle, something the "level of competition" naysayers might want to stop and think about.
Now, Smallwood isn't going to barrel anyone over, but he is a tough runner that keeps his knees high. One of my issues with him is that I think he does run a bit out of control sometimes trying to just outrun everyone and can get tackled a bit easily, but he'll learn that can't be done in college. In terms of breakaway speed, that's something he has as well. Whether it's up the middle or off-tackle, Smallwood can beat a team with his speed and vision once he's in the open field.
Frankly, my question is where he plays at Syracuse. Their quarterback recruiting is starting to suggest a heavy spread offense and while the Z-receiver in a tradition offense is on the outside, the Z-receiver terminology in most spreads is your slot receiver depending on what your focus is. An easy example for Syracuse fans to look at would be Mardy Gilyard at Cincinnati in the past as a Z-receiver. I wonder if the Syracuse staff will try Smallwood there.
Then again, I could just be committing paralysis by analysis and he could play running back where I believe he'll be a talented player. There will certainly be a learning curve and Smallwood will have to learn that he can't win battles with speed all of the time, but in this case Syracuse identified a great player early and is holding onto him while everyone tries to jump on late.
Film Room - Tyree Smallwood
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