The tight end position is getting consistent love within the Alabama offense, and no one is appreciating this more than Irv Smith Jr. Hailing from New Orleans, La., his success has come on the heels of former Crimson Tide star, O.J. Howard – a first-round pick in the 2017 draft.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 241 pounds, Smith has benefitted from having offensive coordinator Michael Locksley, quarterbacks’ coach Dan Enos, and co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers’ coach Josh Gattis together in helping to create the nation’s most feared offensive powerhouse.
In an ocean of run-pass options and deep passes, defenses have left both the middle of the field and the perimeter accessible to Smith. During the Tide’s matchup with Arkansas over the weekend, he brought in just two passes but totaled a career-high 123 receiving yards.
Smith was on the receiving in of Alabama’s first touchdown of the game: a short catch that turned into a quick turn and a 76-yard burst up the sideline for a score. ESPN did not provide its fans with exceptional camera work; however, Tide fans were pleased with His athleticism and balance gave Tua Tagovailoa his 15th touchdown pass as a starting quarterback this season.
Despite losing the ball on what could have been his second score, Henry Ruggs III bailed out Smith and the Tide by recovering the fumble and rolling into the end zone for a touchdown.
After recording his first-ever 100-yard outing, Smith is now the Tide’s second-leading receiver behind Jerry Jeudy with 16 catches for 322 yards and three scores. The duo of he and Jeudy – 135 yards, two scores — became the seventh in school history to post 100 yards in a game.
He has become quite the downfield threat, averaging 21 yards per catch through six games.
While he is a serious matchup nightmare in practice, NFL scouts really like his size, speed and hand strength to snatch passes. Should he continue, the former four-star could be the first tight end selected and may hear his name called in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.