Can't touch this

One prospect attending last Sunday's InsideTennessee combine chose not to run the 40-yard dash. When you run routes as precisely as he does, speed is more of a bonus than a requirement.

And make no mistake: Corey Smith of Buchtel High in Akron, Ohio runs routes about as well as anyone in high school football. Consider this glowing praise from Allen Trieu, Midwest Regional Manager for Scout who recently tabbed Smith the No. 20 prospect in talent-rich Ohio:

"Smith is probably the best route runner in the state. He creates separation with his quickness and ability to change directions. He's excellent on the double move and has an understanding of how to set defenders up, get them on their heels and sometimes make them look foolish. He's not a 4.4 guy, but he's a smooth glider, and that ability to separate makes up for that. I also believe he could be a cornerback for certain schools. He's a very good athlete. I'm expecting a big senior year out of him."

Smith, who made the seven-hour trek from Akron to Knoxville with celebrated teammate Jarrod Wilson, readily concedes that he has a knack for running routes and gaining separation from defensive backs.

"The thing I do best is my route-running," he said. "It's natural to me. This is my first year really working on my route-running because it always came so natural to me. Now it's going to be even better."

Rated a 4-star prospect by Scout, Smith showed an impressive combination of head feints, fancy footwork and athleticism during Sunday's one-on-one drills. He exhibited soft hands and nice acceleration, too, along with a 41-inch vertical jump.

"I'm a very, very good route-runner but I've also got good hands," he said. "My hand-eye coordination is good. I'm quick off the line and I make big plays."

Smith earned first-team all-state honors as a junior after catching 52 passes for 1,161 yards and 16 touchdowns. He averaged an eye-popping 22.3 yards per catch and parlayed nearly one-third of his receptions into TDs. It was apparent at Sunday's combine that the young man enjoys the game immensely.

"Our coach makes sure we have fun when we play football," he said. "It keeps me loose, keeps me out of trouble. It makes me want to keep my grades up because I love football."

Smith also excels at cornerback, a position that is the perfect complement to wideout.

"When I'm at receiver, I know how a corner thinks, and vice versa," he said. "When I'm at corner, I know how the wide receiver thinks."

Asked what he likes best about playing in the secondary, Smith smiled.

"I just want to make picks," he said. "I love catching picks."

Whether he winds up on offense or defense in college, Smith should make some lucky school a very fine player. Right now he says his favorites are "Tennessee, Penn State, West Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Michigan State."

Like most prospects, he says he's looking for a school that can provide "early playing time, a good coaching staff, good academics and somewhere I feel at home. I'm looking for somewhere that they want me as a person and not just as a player."

Smith attended Tennessee's Orange & White game on Saturday before participating in the InsideTennessee combine on Sunday. He previously visited The Hill for the Vols' Junior Day.

"This is my second time down here," he said, noting that both visits went "pretty good."


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