In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a Miami legacy who will build his own reputation at Miami with talent, length and athleticism: Melbourne (FL) ATH Chase Smith.
Miami is always on the search of lengthy, athletic defenders. And , in the 2021 class, that search led them to a familiar face: ATH Chase Smith.
Like several former and current players, Smith is a Miami legacy: his father Willie Smith played TE for the Canes from 1982-85, was on the Canes’ 1983 Championship team (the first championship team in program history), and a consensus All-American in 1985. There’s an argument to be made that Miami’s legacy as Tight End U started with Smith. And now, his son was a senior year recruit.
The younger Smith started making a name for himself at Palm Bay (FL) Bayside HS. A long and lean 6’3” 215lb athlete, Smith made plays on offense at WR and on defense at LB and S. For his efforts on the field in 2019, Smith earned All-Area honors and 3rd team All-State honors as well. And with that performance and success, teams started to turn up the heat in Smith’s recruitment.
Kentucky was the first team to jump in with an offer for Smith, but multiple teams joined the club starting in January. Miami, and Oklahoma offered on January 10th, Utah on the 11th, Florida and Florida State on the 27th, and so on.
It seemed for a while early on that Smith was going to pick Miami. But....he never did. It was radio silence for a time, and COVID-19 locked the country down, so all of the recruiting became virtual. However, as spring turned to summer, things began to clear up, at least for Smith. And while it was a bit of a surprise on the day it happened, it was no surprise in the end that Smith followed his heart and committed to the Canes to continue the family legacy, and continue his personal path at the University of Miami.
On the 247sports composite, Smith is a 4-star prospect, the #17 ATH nationally in this class, #43 in the State of Florida, and #294 recruit overall.
Smith committed to Miami over Auburn, Indiana, and Mississippi State from a list of 18 scholarship offers from around the country.
As A Player
In that he’s listed as an Athlete, the first thing to know about Smith is his great versatility. He’s made game changing plays at multiple positions on offense and defense, and the potential exists for him to forge a path forward at any of those spots.
Whether on offense or defense, Smith can use his great height and length to his advantage. At 6’3” with long arms, he has a wide catch radius as a receiver, and the ability to affect plays (tipped passes, redirecting receivers, reaching out and grabbing running backs) with that length on defense as well.
Even at 190lbs which isn’t small really, Smith has room to grow into his lithe frame. With him projected to play defense at Miami, somewhere around 225-230lbs would be a great weight for him, and allow him to keep his same level of athleticism.
The thing for Smith is going to be focusing on one position and being the best he can at that spot. Right now, he’s a jack of all trades and master of none. Having to do less for his team (i.e. playing only one side of the ball) should help him hone his skills and reach toward the ceiling for his development.
Smith has the build of a safety at present, but his skills seem to translate better towards the hybrid STRIKER position in Miami’s defense. That position is part Safety, part Linebacker, and that’s where Smith will fit best for the Canes. Some had thought of trying him at WR full time (since Miami doesn’t have many guys in that room who are 6’3”) but defense is where Smith’s potential is greatest.
Here’s another evaluation on Smith by 247sports National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins:
Easily among the most versatile players in the country and could line up at multiple positions at the next level. As a receiver, he uses his length to win jump ball battles and shows the speed to separate. Defensively, he could end up at as a safety or outside ‘backer and really flashes on that side of the ball. He can run down plays from behind, is a big hitter, shows good ball skills and is one of those kids that just always seems to be around the football. He can blitz off the edge as well as drop back in coverage and where he ends up will likely be decided by how much weight he puts on in a few years. He has a safety frame but a linebacker skill set and the closer to the line of scrimmage he plays might be the best way to maximize his enormous skill set. Projects as an impact upper tier Power 5 starter and future mid-high round NFL draft pick
- A bit light
- No clearly defined position
Note: changing this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player.
Smith is the kind of athlete Miami should be getting. Tall with long arms and good athleticism. He’ll transition to defense full-time at the college level and that will probably take some time for him to settle in and start developing towards the ceiling of his potential.
Unlike some other Miami legacies the Canes have signed to the roster in the last decade, Smith would absolutely be a take for the Canes if he wasn’t related to a former program great. He can absolutely play here, and that should prove itself to be true in the coming years.
With Gilbert Frierson and Keontra Smith in front of Smith at STRIKER, it will probably be a couple years until he’s in the rotation at that position. But, that can be a good thing. It will give him time to develop physically, learn the intricacies of playing defense full time, and settle into his role for the team. Smith has the ability to play at Miami, but his biggest impact on the field will most likely be seen in a couple of years. Smith could be a depth player on special teams and occasionally on base defense in year 1 and year 2, but look for him to really break out and push toward a starting spot in year 3 and beyond.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.