Roquan Smith could be the next trendsetter. Roquan Smith has changed the game. Roquan Smith may have started a revolution.
Those are a few ways some describe the Georgia commit after he told Mark Richt that he will not sign his letter of intent and instead signed grant-in-aid papers, which will make him an official recruit as soon as he enrolls in the summer.
But what Smith has done this offseason is just a blip on the radar. Once Smith hits campus, he is a Bulldog and will have a chance to make an impact right away.
One of the reasons the Bulldogs had Smith as one of their top targets is the fact that he’s not only one of the top players in Georgia but one of the best inside linebackers in the country. While he’s not the biggest linebacker prospect (6’2’’, 207 lbs), he’s athletic, can play in space and can make plays on the football.
While playing football at Macon County High School in Montezuma, Georgia, he was a force as a linebacker and a running back. However, middle linebacker was his strength, as he tallied 173 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and two interceptions his senior year.
For his efforts in 2014, Smith was named All-Middle Georgia by the The Macon Telegraph; he was named Class AA Defensive Player of the Year by the Georgia Sports Writers Association and Class AA Defensive Player of the Year by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Smith will get a lot of looks from defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt during fall camp. Smith did play inside linebacker at Macon County, but he’s being recruited as an outside linebacker.
So the question is: How much time will Smith see during his first year?
This is where things get a little tricky.
The starting outside linebackers are currently Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd. Then there’s Lorenzo Carter, who filled in for Floyd earlier in the season. All three players can get after the quarterback and make plays in the backfield.
However, there are even more players looking to see action at outside linebacker, including Johnny O’Neal, Davin Bellamy, Shaun McGee and Natrez Patrick, who signed with the Bulldogs in February but enrolled at Georgia in January.
So with the outside linebacker position full, could Smith play inside linebacker, at least for this season?
Reggie Carter and Tim Kimbrough are the projected starters for the upcoming season, but they're taking the places of Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson. So there is a chance for Smith to make an impact at inside linebacker, but he will need to get better and fine-tune his tackling skills before the coaches consider him a top candidate for the job.
Smith is the first highly recruited player not to sign a letter of intent, but he does not want to be remembered for how he got to Athens. He wants to help Richt and Company get that elusive national championship trophy.
That could happen if he continues to grow as a player on and off the field.