Scouting latest Trojan Commitment

Westchester Comets

Last week USC added a commitment from massive lineman Dakota Smith of Westchester High School in Los Angeles. The early commitment surprised many, but from what kind of prospect did the Trojans take a commitment?

See Dakota Smith in Action in this presentation by ScoutTV

Last week I stopped by Westchester High School to get a look at USC's latest commitmetnt in massive Dakota Smith. While Smith didn't attend spring workouts that day, I was able to get several game tapes of the Comets to see Smith in action.

The first attribute of Smith that jumps out is obvious; he's huge. Easily the biggest player on the field, Smith's big 77 stands talller and wider than any other player on the field at roughly 6-6 and 350 pounds. The first game I watched of Smith was against Taft, and he played second team defensive tackle in the game.

My first impression of watching him on defense was: he needs to be moved to offense. 

While players his size aren't very common, it's not uncommon for young, big men to not have adjusted to their massive frames as quickly as smaller skill players. Smith is no exception to this rule. At times he's awkward in his change of direction and slow to react. He gets moved around by smaller offensive linemen despite of his size advantage, because he plays too high and loses leverage.

One one play in particular, Smith was was free on the line of scrimmage to close a hole that fellow USC commit D.J. Morgan was about to come through. Not only did Smith not make the tackle, he was still moving in the wrong direction by the time Morgan was by him. Now, Morgan has made more than one defender look back in his already prominent career at Taft, but that play illustrated my initial thoughts, Smith doesn't change directions well enough to play defensive line on the college level.

The two players that immediately came to mind as guys I had similar thoughts of that had big time college offers, but played their junior seasons on the wrong side of the ball were John Jerry who has starred on the offensive line at Ole Miss, and D.J. Fluker who signed with Alabama with the Class of 2009.

As I moved on to Westchester's game against Washington, I saw that last year's coaching staff at Westchester already knew what I was just finding out, as Smith had been moved to starting offensive tackle. At times he lined up on each side of the line at left and right tackle.

Smith has a good first step and is able to dictate the action on the offensive line, rather than try to react to it on the defensive side of the ball. One of his best attributes is how well he uses his hands. He has quick hands and is able to slap away a rushing defensive end that tries to rip or swim by him. His quick hands allow him to push a quicker defensive line off stride in pass protection. He also gets a tremendous push when he gets his arms extended and his hands squared on an opponent.

He'll need to work on his technique and sink his hips into his drive blocks. On running plays, it appeared as if he was bracing for contact, before pushing into his man, but with his obvious size and strength, he would still be able to impose his will on a defender. It's almost scary to think what that contact will look like when he learns to explode into contact and drive his man as one continuos motion.

Smith still played back up at defensive tackle, but I think the Westchester coaches last year gave Smith a leg up by putting him in his natural position of offensive line as a junior in high school. My projection for him currently would be offensive guard. He needs to get stronger in his lower body to improve his change of direction, but he's got a frame that puts him at an advantage over 99% of the players in this country.

A low risk prospect, Smith is at a position that needs to be recruited in mass numbers as opposed to quarterback where it's hard to take more than one per class. So while Smith is a project, he's a project with a big upside because of his size. There's an old NBA saying that says if "you're going to miss on a draft pick, miss taking a seven footer". Well, if the Trojans are going to take a chance on a player, take a chance on the 6-6/350 pounder.

See Smith in Action in this presentation by ScoutTV Recommended Stories

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