Tennessee’s star offensive lineman Trey Smith will return to Knoxville for his senior season. The surprising announcement was made on Thursday afternoon at the Tennessee football facility.
“I wanted to be 100 percent sure of my decision,” Smith said during his announcement.” With that being said, I will honor my mother Dorsetta Smith. I made up my mind and don’t ever expect to look back, I’m going to stay at the University of Tennessee.”
Smith words mirrored that of Peyton Manning, who also opted to stay at Tennessee for his senior season over 20 years ago.
The 6-6, 325 pound guard will return to Tennessee’s offensive line, forming perhaps the most potent line in the country ahead of the 2020 season, pending a waiver for incoming transfer Cade Mays. With Mays in and Smith back, Tennessee could start four former five-star prospects up front.
“We sent my film off and got it evaluated by the college advisory board,” Smith said. “They recommended I come back. Through thoughtful prayer and consideration, I decided that was the best option.”
Smith found his groove once again on the field, getting back to his dominant form at guard. He had missed portions of the last two offseasons due to blood clot concerns. He was limited in practice all season long, making his performances on Saturdays that much more impressive.
The key to Smith’s draft stock was always the status of his health. If he were to declare early, he would have to go through several medical checks with NFL teams as they determined whether or not he was worth the risk. By staying at Tennessee, Smith can continue working closely with those that have been with him throughout the entire process — hopefully allowing him to get a full offseason and senior year in.
“We have a great plan here at the University of Tennessee,” Smith told the media. “We have a great medical staff. Talking with Dr. Klenck, we have a great plan. Anything he feels comfortable with, we’re going to stick to it. His plans have worked thus far.”
Smith also revealed that his medical situation that ended his 2018 season might not have been a recurrence of blood clots after all.
Tennessee doctor Chris Klenck said after further review, he and the medical staff believes the 2018 issue that sidelined Trey Smith was not actually a recurrence of blood clots.— David Ubben (@davidubben) January 9, 2020
Says they'll continue the medical plan into 2020.
So where can Trey Smith improve his game in 2020?
“Balance, body control, overextension, being too aggressive at times, which I think is just a timing thing,” Smith said. “Just have to play the game under control. Sometimes I get really overaggressive and just want to kill everybody when I’m out there. But just playing with controlled violence, if that makes sense.”
Smith has a chance to grow as a player and prove he’s healthy, but he also has a real chance of helping put Tennessee back where they should be consistently — competing for the SEC East crown.