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2022 Miami Hurricanes player preview: Keontra Smith

In his third season at linebacker and fourth overall, Keontra Smith will be vital to the success of the Hurricanes’ defense in 2022.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 23 NC State at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2022 Miami Hurricanes have some question marks on the roster, but none are as big as the ones at linebacker. Keontra Smith can hopefully answer some with another season at the position under his belt.

As an undersized linebacker, Smith gets around the field well. Originally recruited as a safety, Smith moved to striker under Manny Diaz’s defensive scheme. He then became a weakside linebacker and had his best season to date.

As a member of the 2019 recruiting class, Smith was a four-star safety and a top 200 recruit in the country. He mostly played on special teams as a freshman, finishing the season with two tackles.

During his sophomore season in 2020, he accumulated 22 tackles with two of those going for a loss. He followed that up with career highs in just about every category.

2021 stats: 38 tackles, 18 solo tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble

His best game came against North Carolina, making six total tackles with two sacks. His two-sack game was the best individual sack number for any Miami player during the 2021 season.

With his small frame at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, Smith should be able to get around the field better than most linebackers. With a new defensive coaching staff, some new players from recruiting and the transfer portal, and players hopefully making improvements, Smith should be free to run sideline to sideline and make more plays as a faster linebacker.

In an ideal scenario, Smith would be used as a utility player that can be used in a ton of different ways. The third linebacker against run-first teams. The second linebacker against passing teams. And as both of those in different scenarios throughout those games.

2022 Prediction: 50 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions