Profile: Cole Smith
Position: Offensive Lineman
Location: Mission Viejo (Calif.)
Weight: 260 pounds
Recruiting: Smith was surprisingly flying a little under the radar early in the spring, despite playing for a big time program and have all the attributes of an elite center prospect. Arizona State stepped up first with an offer and California and Utah soon followed. The OL camped at UCLA in June and landed an offer from the Bruins and Smith camped with USC the next day. Despite a strong performance, the offer from the Trojans didn't come right away. It finally did come last week and there was really never a doubt he would jump on it. Smith grew up a big USC fan and his father Doug, a former All-Pro OL with the Rams, coached at USC with John Robinson.
What to Like: Smith is a pure center and one of the most technically sound offensive lineman you'll see. When you watch him play, it's easy to see he's the son of a former coach/player. Smith doesn't just play with great technique, he's a very physical player with great feet. He's equally strong as a run blocker and pass protector and mentally, is about 2-3 steps ahead of the game. He does a great job getting to the second level and taking on a linebacker or safety but is tough enough to bury a nose guard at the line of scrimmage. In pass-pro, he shows great lateral mobility and can make a down block and still shuffle his feet to block a blitzing linebacker coming through. He calls all the line checks and will be able to make a very smooth transition to the college level because of how smart he is and how well he understands the game.
Areas to improve: Smith is a little undersized right now and will likely need a redshirt year to put on some weight. He has the frame to do so and it's always good for incoming offensive lineman to take a year to get bigger and stronger. Center is the one position where you can get by more on technique and smarts over pure size but at 255 pounds, Smith would probably be a more affective player in the 280 pound range.
Overall Analysis: As we mentioned, Smith is a pure center prospect and we heard that's what Sark was looking for. Some feel it's easy to convert a guard or tackle to center but it's not always that simple. With Smith, USC is getting a player who has played the position his whole life, is comfortable snapping under center or in the gun and will allow other players being pressed in to action at center, to play their natural position. Smith is a player we could see ending up a three-year starter for the Trojans and being a key piece in what should be a very talented group of offensive lineman down the road.