Rookie Spotlight: Shi Smith
Height: 5’10” (unofficial)
Weight: 185 lbs (unofficial)
40 yard dash: 4.4 (unofficial)
NFL Comparison: Randall Cobb, Golden Tate
– doesn’t lose speed on side to side cuts
– tracks ball well in air
– consistent vertical threat
– high points the ball
– sticky hands
– solid route runner
– lacks physicality
– limited catch radius
– incomplete blocker
College Production Score: .39
2020 Market Share Team Receptions: 33%
2020 Market Share Team Receiving Yards: 34%
2020 Market Share Team Receiving Yards: 50%
4-star recruit in 2017 (ranked 162nd nationally in the 247Sports composite of recruiting services).
Scouting Notes: Shi (pronounced “Shy”) Smith comes from a recent history of more-than-capable receivers at South Carolina, i.e., Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards. Like those players, Smith can be useful on multiple levels. He’s best suited for the slot, due to his size and lack of sheer physicality, but he can threaten the big play downfield at any time. Smith has short arms and thus a limited catch radius, but his hands are sure and he can snatch the ball in traffic. He often high-points the ball as well despite his size, so he gets the most out of his range. Check out this highlight reel completion as an example of how Smith plays bigger than his stature. Especially adept at comebacks, Smith can stop on a dime, adjust to the ball, make the catch and then be on his way. And though he’s not the most powerful receiver, he’s not afraid to go over the middle and doesn’t shy away from contact.
While Smith’s counting stats in a vacuum do not look particularly favorable, his college production score is excellent given the context of South Carolina’s anemic 2020 offense, as Smith was responsible for half the receiving TDs and basically one-third of all other receiving work.
Fantasy Outlook: The biggest question about Smith in regards to the NFL, is whether he can beat press coverage with any regularity. Him playing the slot should help ameliorate that issue to an extent, but it won’t mitigate the problem altogether. Sure-handed and explosive, Smith can turn a minor play into a major one in an instant, and in a west-coast type of offense he could do a lot of fantasy damage. He’s also had a pretty healthy career thus far, missing only 3 games in college, so that bodes well for his longevity. If Smith can learn to play a role on plays he’s not necessarily involved in as the playmaker, he could get on the field early and often in his rookie year.
FROM THE SOUTH CAROLINA ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT
The top returning receiver on the squad… moves into the No. 1 role after being a secondary option behind Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards… has 117 career receptions for 1,571 yards… enters his final season ranked in a tie for 12th on the school’s all-time list of receptions with Cory Boyd… also had returned 18 kickoffs for 401 yards, a 22.3-yard average… has played in 34 games over the past three seasons with 26 starts, second among the returning players… best known for his hands and his ability to catch the ball.
Junior who was second on the squad with 43 receptions for 489 yards… averaged 11.4 yards per catch with a pair of touchdowns… started all 10 games in which he played… missed the Vanderbilt and Appalachian State games with a hamstring injury… best game came against Tennessee when he caught a career-high 11 passes for a career-high 156 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch on the game’s first play… had six receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown against Alabama… led the team with five receptions against both North Carolina and Clemson… returned 12 kicks for 263 yards, a 21.9-yard average… long return was 60 yards in the season opener against North Carolina.
Sophomore who hauled in 45 passes for 673 yards, a 15.0-yard average, with four touchdowns… played in 12 games, making nine starts… missed the Akron game with back spasms… had a pair of 100-yard receiving games… had the biggest game of the season in the Vanderbilt win with five catches for 119 yards and a touchdown… tallied three catches for 51 yards and a score against Texas A&M… reeled in three catches for 82 yards in the Ole Miss win… made the best play of the Chattanooga win, shedding several tackles as part of a 53-yard touchdown catch… logged a then career-best nine catches for 109 yards and a TD against Clemson… had six catches for 76 yards in the Belk Bowl vs. Virginia… also had a 62-yard kickoff return in the bowl game.
True freshman who played in 12 contests, making seven starts… hauled in 29 passes for 409 yards, a 14.1-yard average, with three scores and without a drop… ranked third on the team in receiving yards, fourth in catches and second in yards per catch… ranked third among freshmen in the SEC with 2.4 catches per game and third with 34.1 receiving yards per game… also returned five kickoffs for 76 yards… made his first career start at Missouri and caught four passes for 22 yards… hauled in three catches for a then career-best 86 yards and his first touchdown at Texas A&M… led the team with five receptions for 76 yards in the win over Vanderbilt, including a 36-yard TD… logged three catches for 30 yards in the Wofford win before leaving win an injury which forced him to miss the Clemson game… returned for the Outback Bowl game versus Michigan and responded with three catches for 59 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown reception, the longest of his career.
Prepped at Union (S.C.) County High School… helped the Yellowjackets post a 9-5 mark and reach the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs in his senior season… caught 47 passes for 609 yards and 10 touchdowns… named the 4A Upper State Back of the Year by the South Carolina Football Coaches Association… coached by Bradley Adams… played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas following his senior season… caught 54 passes for 1,337 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior in 2015… Rivals rated him as the second-best player in the state of South Carolina, the 34th-best wide receiver in the country and No. 205 overall… considered the second-best player in the state, the fourth-best “athlete” in the country and No. 159 overall by 247Sports… ranked as the best player in the state, the 16th-best wide receiver in the country and No. 107 overall by ESPN… rated as the 67th-best wide receiver in the nation by Scout.
Shiyun M. Smith was born Oct. 26, 1998… pursuing a degree in retail management.