Charlotte (NC) West linebacker Jaden Smith committed to Michigan on Monday. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Kentucky, Miami, USC, and Virginia Tech, among others.
Smith is listed at 6’3″ and 201 pounds.
On3: 3-star, 89 grade, #30 LB
Rivals: 3-star ATH, 5.7 grade
247 Sports: 3-star, 88 grade, #42 ATH
Hit the jump for more.
Michigan offered Smith back in the early part of May, which was kind of a late offer for the class of 2024. When that type of thing happens, it’s often a sign that the coaches have taken some time to really evaluate a prospect – rather than throwing out offers to top-100 level guys – and they like what they’ve seen. And Michigan has done a pretty good job with its evaluations of under-the-radar prospects. Smith set up an official for last weekend, and following the visit, Smith came out publicly with his commitment.
Smith is a little bit thin for a linebacker prospect at 6’3″ and 201 lbs. Even though 201 sounds decent sized, he looks more like a safety than a linebacker. His high school team seems to use him quite a bit coming off the edge, where he uses his quickness and change-of-direction skills to flummox offensive tackles with slants, spins, etc. He has good closing speed and can bend in the backfield to chase down running backs or quarterbacks. His aggression is obvious, and he’s not afraid to mix it up with bigger players.
Some things to work on include getting bigger and stronger, of course; the aggression is there to make tackles, but sometimes he struggles to bring ball carriers down simply due to his lack of size and strength. Depending on how Michigan deploys him, he will also have to use any extra bulk to fend off college linemen, who will undoubtedly be more adept at dealing with his pass rush efforts. While his high school team uses him as an edge rusher or a hybrid space player, he will probably have to move inside to the weakside linebacker spot, and the changes in his reads and technique will be big for him.
Overall, Smith has a good bit of athleticism to work with, but his body’s development is the big question mark. He has the size of a safety, plays like an edge rusher, and seems to have the size/skills combo to develop into an inside linebacker. The Michigan player who comes to mind for a comparison is Brandin Hawthorne, who was a 6’1″, 181 lb. athlete coming out of Pahokee (FL) Pahokee in the class of 2009. Though Hawthorne was listed two inches shorter, Smith doesn’t look to be a full 6’3″ on film (note: Smith certainly could have grown an inch or two in the past seven months).
Michigan now has 19 commitments in the class of 2024. Smith is the fourth linebacker, joining Mason Curtis, Zach Ludwig, and Cole Sullivan, though Ludwig might be a long snapper and Curtis might be an edge rusher and Sullivan might be an edge rusher, too, so who knows? What I’m trying to say is that Michigan is putting together an intriguing class of versatile athletes. Smith is the third commitment in this class from the city of Charlotte, NC, joining quarterback Jadyn Davis and wide receiver Channing Goodwin.
TTB Rating: 74
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