The good news keeps rolling in for the good guys. 3-star linebacker Jalen Smith announced his commitment to Tennessee on Sunday, making it five separate commits in the past 10 days for Tennessee football.
Smith (6-foot, 213 pounds) comes out of the powerhouse Grayson High School in Georgia. On a team typically boasting a handful of Power-5 players, Tennessee has grabbed one of their most athletic recruits yet.
Tennessee’s approach to the linebacker room in this class is pretty interesting. Rather than honing in on one particular type of linebacker they need, they are casting a wide net and getting a variety of player types. If you remember in the Jeremiah Telander article, I noted that he was the type of linebacker whose promise lies in his football IQ and sound instincts—rather than his athleticism.
Smith is the opposite end of the spectrum. His film shows a very athletically promising player that loves to get into the backfield. He’s a very quick player who runs like a bat out of hell when the ball is snapped. He brings a pop too, and it’s obvious to see why he has 40 offers to his name. Despite his listed height, he does look lengthy, and even at around 213 pounds, he looks like he could put on some more weight for the college level.
The biggest room for improvement for Smith is going to be taking on the responsibilities of a linebacker in a college defense. Smith’s role for Grayson is mainly as a havoc guy. His job is to find his way into the backfield and try to make a play. And while he will certainly be tasked with it in college, he’s going to need to show a bit more variety with his game. He’s got the athletic profile to do basically anything in the middle of the field—it’s a matter of getting him to the college level when it comes to play reaction, coverage, etc.
Smith is currently ranked 439th in the 247Sports Composite Rankings and comes in as the 40th ranked linebacker. He is Tennessee’s 17th commit of the 2023 class. With three linebackers in the class already, the Volunteers have likely filled up their spots at the position.