Trey Smith could’ve been a first-round pick after the 2019 season.
He was a monster that year. He made First-Team All-SEC, allowed zero sacks, and consistently flashed dominance in the trenches. A lot of your top draft sites had him as a top-10 overall pick heading into the 2020 season.
Instead of declaring for the draft, he chose to fulfill a promise he made to his late mother: He decided to stick around and get his degree at Tennessee.
That wonderful, admirable personal decision ended up a terrible business decision. Tennessee’s offense -and the team in general- was abysmal in 2020. The offense’s ineptitude reflected poorly on every kid wearing orange and white, including Smith.
Everything came to a head when Smith fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in the not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but sixth round of the NFL Draft. He was tabbed by most as a fourth-round pick at the latest, but his medicals combined with a less-than-stellar 2020 season were the likely catalysts in the fall.
Despite the negatives that come with draft tumble, per the usual, Smith took the high road.
“It’s a rollercoaster,” Smith told GoVols247 after he was selected by the Chiefs. “I’m a big video game player, so I have my PC table set up right now. The first two nights, watched a little bit, had family over. (When) you don’t get selected, it’s tough. But ultimately being selected today, it’s such a great feeling, it’s such a feeling of relief, something you’ve worked for your entire life. It was definitely overwhelming at a lot of points, but at the end of the day, God has a plan and here I am.”
But speaking of rollercoasters, that’s exactly how one describes Smith’s time on Rocky Top. The back-and-forth with the blood clots, the disastrous offenses, the inept coaching - it will either make you or break you.
Fortunately, Smith didn’t fold under the pressure. And now, he is in a great situation with the Chiefs. First off, he’ll actually know what its like to win again at a high level and secondly, he will likely have a shot at competing for a starting gig in the next 2-3 years.
The journey from the center of hell that
was is Smith’s Tennessee career to ascending to the heavens that is the Chiefs is exactly what this kid deserves. In a way, his decision to return may have paid off, after all.
Regardless, Smith is now in a better place. And we are all better for it.