Stephen's Report

Is cornerback Maurice Smith headed to University of Miami?

Alabama cornerback Maurice Smith (No. 21) during the 2015 season: Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this month, reports were swirling about Alabama’s veteran cornerback Maurice Smith weighing “transfer options.” The former four-star prospect and No. 9-ranked corner in 2013 recruiting cycle singled out Maryland, Georgia and Miami (FL) as his three prospects; however, Touchdown Alabama Magazine has learned that one program is just about closed the deal.

Smith, a native of Sugar Land, Texas, played three seasons (2013-15) at Alabama.

He served on special teams and defense as a nickel corner and a safety. The 6-foot, 195-pound defender totaled 38 career tackles, five pass breakups and a forced fumble in 38 games, but desires to be a true No. 2 cornerback. While Alabama and Georgia have horses in the stable at the position, the Miami Hurricanes are the ideal fit for Smith. Coach Mark Richt is already stirring up excitement at South Beach and Smith has a prior connection with Miami’s defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz.

Diaz, who tried to recruit Smith to Texas in 2013, compiled a 25-14 record in three seasons as the Longhorns’ coach on defense. He would spend a year at both Louisiana Tech (2014) and Mississippi State (2015), before Richt hired him on to his staff back in January.

Part of Miami’s 8-5 season in 2015 was the play of cornerback Artie Burns.

Burns led the secondary in interceptions (six), while guiding the unit to allowing 203.8 passing yards/game on a 59.9 percent completion rating. Opponents’ accounted for an average touchdown to interception ration (16-15). With Burns in the National Football League, the Hurricanes return Corn Elder as its No.1 corner. Elder posted a team-high 11 pass breakups in 13 games a year ago.

He registered four tackles for loss and two sacks, leading the back five in both categories.

The return of Elder and safety Rayshawn Jenkins is promising, nevertheless, Miami still needs another physical corner. Smith would be used as an aggressor in Diaz’s defense, giving him a chance to frustrate wide receivers and victimize quarterbacks.

He has yet to record an interception in his career, but maybe fooling Clemson’s Deshaun Watson into making a error might be what Smith is looking for. Fall camp kicks off in August, which provides Smith with a little over a month to make a decision. Good news for him is that he doesn’t fall victim to the transfer rule. Smith earned his degree in three years and will be immediately eligible to play once Miami sends in the announcement. 

The loss of Smith will not hurt Alabama in its base and nickel formations, but issues may float up when the Tide goes to its dime package. He was in the running to start in both nickel (star) and dime (money), prior to desiring a transfer. Six players will compete to take over in Smith’s place, including defensive back Deionte Thompson—who enters 2016 as a redshirt freshman.

Despite linebacker Jamey Mosley naming Thompson as an impact player, he must edge out Kendall Sheffield, Anthony Averett, Shyhiem Carter (guy that Smith likes), Jared Mayden and Nigel Knott.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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