The Clemson Insider gives a scouting report on every player on Clemson’s summer depth chart. We will break down what the player does best, what he needs to work on, how he compares to other former players at his position and where he fits on the Clemson roster.
Player name: Chad Smith (6-4, 235)
Player position: Linebacker (middle)
Years left of eligibility: 3 years
Current rank on depth chart: co-First Team
Player productivity so far: Smith is one of the most valuable players on special teams for the Tigers’ 2016 National Championship team. He Shared defensive special teams player of the year honors with safety Tanner Muse. He produced 19 tackles while playing in 13 games. Smith matched Muse with a team-high 10 tackles on special teams.
What player does best: Smith plays a lot like Ben Boulware. He rarely is out of position. He plays good fundamental football, trust his instincts and runs to the football. He is very coachable as well.
What player needs to work on: Like Tre Lamar, Smith is still learning what defensive coordinator and linebacker Brent Venables expects from his linebackers, especially his middle linebackers.
Productivity of former Clemson players at the position (first year and last):
Spencer Shuey, 2012: He ranked second on the team with 93 tackles, six tackles for loss and had one sack. He also broke up one pass.
Stephone Anthony, 2013: He led the Tigers with 131 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss. He also had 4 sacks and broke up 5 passes, while recording the game-saving interception in the 2014 Orange Bowl win over Ohio State.
Stephone Anthony, 2014: He led the Tigers with 90 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss. He had 2.5 sacks and broke up four passes. He also had one interception.
Ben Boulware, 2015: He ranked second on the team with 138 tackles, had eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also broke up seven passes and had two interceptions, including one in the 2016 Orange Bowl win over Oklahoma.
Kendall Joseph, 2016: He ranked second on the team with 124 tackles, but tied for the team lead with 135 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He had 3.5 sacks and 16 quarterback pressures as well. He also had one interception.
What can you hope for? Smith comes on strong, and even if he becomes a backup to Lamar, he becomes a productive player who can be distributive in the running game.
What is a realistic expectation? It is easy to see Smith be the starter. Venables loves his work habits and likes the way he plays the game. Seeing Smith share the middle with Lamar could mean he records 70 or 80 tackles with five tackles for loss and a couple of sacks.
What about the future? Smith is just a redshirt sophomore who loves Clemson and his role on the team. He will do anything that is asked of him. It is easy to see him playing on the weakside as well if the Tigers need him there. He appears to be on his way to having a very good career at Clemson.