Team USA U-19 head coach Steve Specht has seen plenty of really good players during his time at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
"I think the kid's amazing," Specht said of Smythe. "I can't believe he's only 16 years old. That kid has a bright future. He's going to be really special."
One of the things that Specht said made Smythe special was his versatility. Unlike most other so-called "receiving tight ends," Smythe has no problem doing the blocking dirty work.
"Sometimes he seems like that housefly that thinks it's going to hit that bus and knock it off its wheels," Specht said. "But he will stick his nose in there."
That's the same description used by Greg McCaig, the Cypress Creek (Texas) coach working with the Team USA tight ends.
"Right now, he's willing, and that's the important thing," McCaig said. "He's willing to stick his nose in. A lot of those guys who are tight ends, and are pass-catchers, they aren't. Obviously, as tall as he is, we have to make sure he bends and gets his hips down. But he can do that. He's fluid. He's not stiff. So he has a chance to be a really, really special guy."
Why the focus on his blocking ability? Because it allows Smythe to play a variety of roles within the Team USA offense, beyond simply splitting out as a de-facto big slot receiver.
"We're going to put in what they grasp. With him, we're going to move him around, motion him all over the place," Specht said. "And he's dead on. He's doing exactly what we want him to do. He has football IQ as well, and that's big."
So big, that it's his No. 1 trait, according to McCaig, even beyond his athleticism and catching ability.
Durham is an exceptionally bright kid," McCaig said. "That's the first thing that you notice. He's very consciencious. Anybody that can qualify academically for Stanford, can qualify academically for Notre Dame and winds up at Texas, another extremely prestigious university, is very, very bright. He's intuitive and picks things up well."The other thing that I like about him is he's run about more reps than anybody on the team, because I have [only one] tight end," McCaig said. "He's done a great job. He has a lot of courage. He has really good hands. And he's only 16. At such a young age, he's still going to mature and grow into his body. He has a bright future ahead of him."
Just how bright a future?
Just give me about three or four more of him and we can take over a small country," McCaig said, laughing. "He'll be great."