There is mean, then there is “knock you down on your butt three times and never give you a chance to get up” kind of mean. That’s the kind of mean Nathan Smith displays as a run blocker.
That’s why Smith is considered one of the top offensive lineman in California. He could end up being a dominating run blocker in the Pac-12 for USC and plays with the kind of effort and intensity that should be contagious to the rest of his teammates on the offensive line.
He is a decent athlete for the position that isn’t too heavy on his feet. He moves fairly well for his size. He definitely needs to add weight and strength, but has a great frame to work with and should be able to add to get to over 300 pounds while at USC. He has ideal length for the tackle position.
Smith has an extra dose of nasty to his game that separates him from a lot of other top lineman. His size and natural strength help him dominate, but it’s his desire to not only finish, but not even give the defender a chance to get up that is awesome to watch. He’ll knock someone down and then put them right back on their butt again the second they get up. Being that mean is a mentality that most offensive line coaches desperately hope to bring out of some players, but a lot of them don’t have inside of them. They don’t have to worry about it with Smith.
He can get a little high with his pad level and he really needs to improve his hand placement because I could see him get called for holding quite a bit, but I think part of that is just due to over-aggression. If he can just control it a tiny bit, he should eventually be fine.
He moves fairly well getting to the second level and shows good mobility when reaching players on the edge.
He is extremely raw with his pass blocking technique. He is way too high and his footwork is all over the place. I don’t think he had bad feet. I feel it has more to do with technique than anything else. He competes hard, but doesn’t deliver a punch very often and let’s defenders get to his chest. He doesn’t kick slide and will often shuffle with feet practically touching and that almost invites rushers to knock him off balance. He pretty much needs to be built up from scratch from a technique perspective.
He has the physical tools to line up at left tackle, but might be a better fit on the right side. He should be fine with the type of zone running scheme that Sark employs at USC or in the power game.
He is going to need some time to develop both physically and technically, but should be afforded that time at USC before being slotted into the lineup. I think he has the potential to be a dominating run blocker one day and if he progresses with his pass blocking like he should, he’s going to be a very good player for the Trojans before he leaves college.
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Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).