"He has a lot of versatility. He can cover passes in the flat, take on receivers man-to-man, or get back and cover a deep half. I think he will fit in very well as a bandit [at West Virginia]. He played a lot of similar coverages for us out of a similar position, so I think he will feel right at home.
"He's a great blitzer, too," Rodriguez continued. "I know they like to roll the bandit back and play a deep half, too, and he can do that. He provided a lot of flexibility on defense for us. He can cover a lot of different areas, and he is fast enough to play man-to-man."
That Chaminade plays a defense similar to that fielded by WVU is no coincidence. Rodriguez has been a faithful attendee at the one-day clinics West Virginia's coaching staff has conducted in Miami over the past few years, and he has picked up a great deal of information from the Mountaineer coaching staff.
"A lot of the stuff I learned about the stack I learned from them," he explained. "I talk with coach Gibson every time they come down here to the clinics they conduct in Broward and Dade counties. They have definitely expanded their connections and relationships with the coaching staffs down here because of those. In fact, their clinics get more accolades than the ones that the University of Miami runs. They have great hospitality, and they teach and share a lot.
"The clinics have definitely been a major plus. Coach Rodriguez bringing his staff down for clinics -- no other university that does that. So, a lot of schools are taking on WVU's defense and adapting it into their package. And of course, people are grabbing the spread and the zone read for their offenses. Coach Rod makes himself a presence down here, and that has really helped them get established here."
Chaminade's Rodriguez, who also has forged an excellent relationship with WVU assistant Calvin Magee, who recruits in the area, actually has an even longer-standing tie with another member of the Mountaineer staff. WVU graduate assistant Paul Volero, who does yeomanlike work behind the scenes for the West Virginia program, is a childhood friend.
"Paul is a local guy. We grew up together and had the same friends," Rodriguez said "He's a Miami guy, and it definitely helps to have people you know on a staff."
Rodriguez notes that Smith is a very intelligent player who adapts to changes quickly, which, out of the norm, is something his defense does a lot of.
"Eain made all our calls in the secondary. He picks things up extremely well, and he knows not only his assignments, but can tell the other guys what they are supposed to do too. We do a lot of things defensively, and we change them up. For a high school defense, we have a lot of versatility. We fire zone and zone blitz, and run a nickel package, and make a lot of adjustments. He has a great understanding of what we want to do, so I think he will be fine in that regard in college."
One other attribute, albeit it a hidden one, helped Smith become one of the highest rated safeties in the state.
"He's extremely strong, extremely strong," Rodriguez reiterated. "He doesn't look it, but he brings a lot to the table there. And he has a nose for the football."
Although quiet and a bit reserved by nature, Smith did take a leadership role in helping younger teammates learn the ins and out of Chaminade's defensive scheme. Being a more forceful leader is something Rodriguez tried to encourage.
"Eain is a little shy at times when you first meet him," Rodriguez explained. "He is just kind of taking in things and learning about the person and the environment. Once you get to know him, he will open up. We want him to be more vocal at times, but sometimes that is not his demeanor."
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Smith will be one of the players representing the U.S. in the NFL Global Junior Championships, which begin on Jan. 31 in Miami. The event, which brings teams from all over the world to compete in a tournament in the Super Bowl host city, picks its U.S team from the area around the town, and Smith made the cut. Rodriguez, who will be the defensive coordinator on the team, noted that it is a big honor for Smith, who competed with the best from Broward and Dade counties for selection to the team.