Josh Heupel continues to pick up elite prospects for Tennessee football, and now it’s on both sides of the ball. A day after making the cut for elite Alabama defensive back DaKaari Nelson, the Vols secured an actual commitment from a different elite Alabama secondary player, one who is more highly rated overall.
Sylvester Smith, a defensive back out of Munford High School in Talladega County, Ala., became the Vols’ ninth commitment for 2023. He is also the second straight defensive player who is a four-star across the board to commit to UT, following in-state linebacker Caleb Herring.
Standing in the range of 5’11” to 6’1″, Smith weighs between 190 and 200 pounds and is listed as a safety on all services. He announced his commitment to Tennessee football Tuesday afternoon, first pretending to put on a Florida Gators hat before revealing he was faking.
Tennessee’s newest commit Sylvester Smith faked like he was going to Florida and then chose Tennessee.
Feels good😎 pic.twitter.com/EIq1EBqfIg
— More Important Issues (@More_Issues) April 26, 2022
It’s pretty obvious that Smith was an incredible pickup for the Vols. He has now pushed their overall ranking into the top 10 across the board, and they are as high as No. 5 on Rivals. But he brings more than just another commitment.
Trevon Flowers is a super senior at free safety this year, and Jaylen McCollough is a regular season. As a result, the Vols are about to need immediate help at that position, and Smith can come in and compete for early playing time. At the very least, he’ll provide depth.
Coming out of Alabama, Smith has clearly been tested, and while he plays free safety on that side of the ball and at the moment is under 200 pounds, he has also played running back, demonstrating he can be physical. Here is a look at his highlight real.
As you can see, Smith is great at closing in to make the tackle. Given the Vols’ issues this past year with containment, that’s actually a big deal and something Tim Banks and Willie Martinez needed to be looking for in their safeties on the trail.
In addition to being the second straight defensive player to commit who is a four-star across the board, Smith is the third straight commit who can play defense and is a four-star on at least one service. Trevor Duncan, who can play edge rusher or offensive line, joined Tennessee football before both.
Add in all-world quarterback Nico Yamaleava and highly touted tight end Ethan Davis, and Heupel is clearly building an elite program. He’s also putting to rest the concerns that existed about his ability to recruit so watch out for the future.