Branden Smith: Video Highlights for Former Georgia CB
Branden Smith is another elite athlete who has a promising career in front of him in the NFL but was overshadowed by bigger names during his time at Georgia.
Sharing the same defensive snaps with names such as Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo is never an easy task, but Smith made the most of it.
As a versatile athlete with elite speed, Smith made his name known as an effective return man on special teams while also doubling as a cornerback. He even saw some snaps on the offensive side of the ball, which he certainly made the most of as you will come to find out.
Smith is now on his way to the NFL, so let's take a moment to look back at some of the best highlights from his time with the Bulldogs.
All pertinent prospect info courtesy of CBS.
Rushing TD vs. South Carolina, 2009
Yes, Branden Smith is a cornerback and looks to play that position at the NFL level. As you can see in the above clip, he also makes for one heck of a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball.
Smith was not given many opportunities to do this while at Georgia. This is an instance where he makes the most of his chance.
Split out as a wide receiver, Smith receives the ball on a toss from the running back, makes one cut and embarrasses everyone else on the field with his outlandish speed.
At the next level, there may be some on the field who can catch Smith, but that most certainly was not the case here.
Rushing TD vs. New Mexico State, 2011
Here is another instance where Branden Smith lines up on the offensive side of the ball to create a mismatch.
This time, Smith is lined up at running back. He takes the handoff, properly picks the correct hole his offensive line has created for him and puts a wicked move on the defensive back in the open field before switching to another gear to reach pay dirt.
At just 5'10" and 170 pounds, there's little chance Smith will be able to hack it in the NFL as a running back consistently, but every now and then he's good for a play like this.
In other words, he has the ability to change the complexion of a game at any point.
Great Punt Return vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 2010
Did we mention Branden Smith is also an elite weapon in the return game?
During his time at Georgia, Smith mostly made his living as a returner. He played a large amount of snaps at cornerback, but his highest season total for tackles was just 25.
In other words, Smith made a bigger impact on special teams. Above is simply a routine play for Smith on a punt return. He fields the ball, correctly weaves through the holes his blockers have created and uses his elite speed to give his offense a great starting point.
This one didn't go for a touchdown, but any time you have a punt returner who can get you this many yards consistently to win the field-position battle, your team is going to be in great shape.
Interception vs. Kentucky, 2011
Note: Video may contain offensive lyrics.
None of the following slides are to say Branden Smith is not a heck of a playmaker on the defensive side of things, either.
In fact, Smith has all of the tools to be an elite cornerback except for proper technique, which can potentially be fixed through coaching. He's an elite athlete in every sense of the word, as evidenced by the highlight above.
Smith sticks with his man and uses his fluid hip movement and elite speed to actually become the receiver on this play. It was not the greatest pass by the quarterback, but Smith's raw athleticism allowed him to make a play on what should have been a gross overthrow.
Great Punt Return vs. Idaho State, 2010
Note: Video may contain offensive lyrics.
Back to special teams for a moment. Branden Smith is a threat to take the ball for a touchdown literally every time he touches it, which is the case in the video above.
Smith once again displays great vision and anticipation as he makes his way upfield. He cuts through two would-be tacklers and even breaks a few before finally being brought down after a huge gain.
Once again, this is not a scoring play on special teams, but it might as well be. Smith brings the ball back almost inside the 10-yard line, completely flips the field in Georgia's favor and gives his offense the ball with an easy task.
You can't ask for much more than that.
Interception vs. Boise State, 2011
This may go down as Branden Smith's greatest defensive highlight during his time with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Smith is tasked with falling back into coverage in the above video, but he keeps his eyes on the quarterback while backpedaling. This allows him to read exactly where the ball will be thrown, which in turn makes it easy for him to leap up and intercept the low pass.
There is not a big return here, which has come to be the norm from Smith, but the fact that he can also change the game on defense has to be appealing.
Combine this with his excellent all-around game and playmaking ability and it's easy to see why Smith is headed for the NFL.
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