One of the top offensive linemen in the country has made his college choice, as four-star guard Braden Smith has committed to Auburn. The consensus four-star prospect chose War Eagle over finalists TCU and Texas A&M. Smith had offers from 22 other FBS programs, including perennial recruiting powerhouses Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, USC, and Ohio State.
Listed at 6'6 and 290 pounds, Smith attends Olathe South (Kans.) High School and is freakishly strong. At a recent workout, he bench-pressed 515 pounds three times, which is such a large number that it almost ceases to have meaning. For context, that's approximately two FBS defensive ends worth of weight. If you remain skeptical, perhaps this video will change your mind.
Smith can play either guard or tackle at the next level — 247Sports and ESPN list him as a guard, while Rivals and Scout place him at tackle. Scout is highest on Smith, as the lone recruiting service to hand him a five-star rating, and they consider him the second-best offensive tackle in the class. The other recruiting services give him a four-star rating, as does the 247sports composite, which aggregates the ratings of all four major recruiting sites. The composite considers Smith the 64th-best prospect in the class, rating him as the third-best offensive guard and the best player in the state of Kansas.
SB Nation Recruiting Analyst Bud Elliott scouted Smith last spring:
I've had the opportunity to evaluate Smith on film and in person at a recent national combine. And he's a very interesting player. The first thing that pops up with Smith is his physical size. He is physically imposing, and clearly has lifted weights for a long time. Smith has large arms and legs, and is quite strong. But he also has a narrow bone structure, and it is absolutely fair to question whether he is much closer to being maxed out than the typical offensive line prospect.
Smith tests extremely well. He runs the 40 well, and he is very strong on the bench press. He plays in a wing-t offense, and most of his plays are run blocking. Smith does not play great competition, and more often than not overwhelms his opposition. He has a good initial punch, and when he plays low, can really finish off blocks using his leg drive. Smith has good speed in the open field to reach players at the second level, and is quick at the snap.
I do have some questions about his ability in pass protection. He can be a bit robotic, stiff or tight, and could be a better fit as a guard. However, his length and speed may allow him to stay at tackle. Smith is a good prospect, and though I am not quite as high on him as some, I do believe he can become a multi-year starter at the BCS level.