Everyone would have understood if Trey Smith went pro last year. Everyone would also understand if Trey Smith opted not to play football in this current environment, considering his health history.
But Trey Smith wants to play.
Tennessee’s standout offensive lineman sat down with ESPN’s Chris Low this week and discussed his view on play through a pandemic — something that’s been at the forefront of the college football world all summer long. Now with time starting to dwindle, the season is seemingly up in the air.
“It would tick me off to my core if we’re snubbed and that opportunity gets taken away from me to go out there and prove myself,” Smith told ESPN.
Smith has dealt with blood clots in his lungs throughout his career at Tennessee. The issue has cost Smith two different offseasons of work, bringing his long term football career into question. However, the former five-star prospect was able to put together a full season of work in 2019. Instead of immediately cashing in on an NFL career, Smith has chosen to return to Tennessee for his senior year and finish what he started.
Unfortunately for Smith, he’s been dealt yet another wildcard — the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s aware of the risks, but he says that won’t stop him from taking the field during his senior year.
“It would be borderline ignorant to say that it’s not concerning,” Smith continued with Low. “We’ve definitely talked about it as a family, prayed about it and asked God to protect me. Is it worth it? Is it not worth it? Ultimately, to get to my dream goals and aspirations, it’s worth the risk for me.”
Smith is a top-rated offensive lineman entering next season’s draft process. He will obviously have to pass several health checks from NFL team doctors as organizations dive into his medical past, but there’s little doubt surrounding his talent. His 6-foot-6 frame paired with outstanding athletic ability and character should be very appealing next spring.
We’ve seen a few potential top draft picks understandably opt out, but Smith seems determined to prove himself once again. Putting another full year of tape out there and further distancing himself from his blood clot issues seem to be his top priority this season. It’s tough to blame him, considering the path that he’s had to take. Let’s hope for his sake that he gets a chance to finish strong at Tennessee.