Future Impact: Nathan Smith

After being offered a scholarship by USC two weeks ago, Murreita (Calif.) Mesa offensive tackle Nathan Smith said he was ready to narrow down his college choices. But instead of narrowing that list to 10, Smith narrowed it to one Wednesday.

Murrieta (Calif.) Mesa four-star offensive tackle Nathan Smith loves demolishing defensive linemen on film, but with an onslaught of college coaches blitzing his high school campus for the May Evaluation Period, he decided Wednesday to block them all with a commitment to USC.

For USC, it’s commitment No. 4 for 2016 and an important piece to their offensive line class moving forward.

Scout Media Director of Recruiting Brandon Huffman thinks Smith commitment has a major impact of USC’s 2016 recruiting class for several reasons.

“I think it’s a big deal because Nathan Smith is a bonafide offensive tackle,” said Huffman. “A lot of kids you recruit, you recruit hoping they can play tackle.

“Smith is a for sure offensive tackle with his height and length. With the exception of Jonah Williams, I don’t think there’s another pure offensive tackle with proven ability outside Smith.

“USC has a good shot with Frank Martin, who plays right tackle in high school, but he probably end up playing guard in college. With Luke Wattenberg, I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually slid inside to play guard. Alex Akingbulu is going to have to put a lot of weight on to even be a tackle. He weight in at The Opening Los Angeles at 225, 230-pounds.

“So I think with Nathan Smith, USC gets one of the few pure offensive tackle prospects in a pool thats not very deep for 2016. He’s at Murrieta Mesa and had scholarship offers from Oregon, Nebraska, Arizona State, UCLA, Notre Dame and a lot of other schools. If he were at Murrieta Vista, a regional football power, he may have even more offers.

“That may still happened once coaches get down to check him out at the end of spring, but for him to tire of the recruiting process this quick, USC doesn’t have to worry about him having wandering eye syndrome quite as much.”

Smith attended The Opening Regional in Redondo Beach (Calif.) last month. Plagued by back spasms in an injury suffered days before the event, Smith looked stiff in his movements during the camp.

However, on film, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound offensive tackle compares as a cross between USC’s two starting offensive tackles in Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler.

“I don’t think he has the super upside Zach Banner had coming out of high school, but then I also think he’s much further along than Chad Wheeler was,” said Huffman. “There are a lot of similarities to Wheeler in terms of length.

“But Smith is at least 20-to-30 pounds heavier than Wheeler was coming out of high school. I want to say Wheeler was about 240-pounds at the UCLA camp the summer before his senior season. He clearly has more strength than Wheeler had, and I think Smith is a better athlete too.

“What USC has gotten out of Wheeler, they can expect to get out of Smith. Only with Smith, he’s much closer to his peak weight, which will get him on the field faster. You’re not banking on upside as much with Smith. What you’re banking on is him getting stronger, which is natural, but also him improving his flexibility.”

With Banner and Wheeler both being draft eligible after this season, USC will have four other offensive tackles returning for the 2016 season. That includes current freshman offensive tackles Chuma Edoga and Roy Hemsley.

Smith is rated as the West Region’s No. 3 offensive tackle prospect and the nation’s No. 26 prospect at that position overall in the 2016 class.

While he was only offered a scholarship by USC a few weeks ago, Smith’s scholarship offer list began to grow rapidly by February.

“I think once schools saw just how big he was in person when they were on campus in January, they started offering immediately,” said Huffman. “He’s a legit 6-foot-7, 265-pounds with room to put on another 20-30-pounds.

“And he plays with a nastiness on film. He’s a physical masher, who can put on more weight and settle USC at a position where there’s not a lot of talent to choose from.”

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