Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Crimson Countdown: Geno Smith
By Alex Scarborough
During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory.
Expectations for 2013: After a freshman campaign in which he came along at just the right time, starting the two biggest games of the regular season against Texas A&M and Georgia, Smith is expected to do even more for the Crimson Tide in 2013.
Now that shutdown corner Dee Milliner is gone, it's up to Smith to come in and take his place starting opposite Deion Belue. The 6-foot athlete from Atlanta was allowed to develop slowly for head coach Nick Saban last season. This time around he'll need to bring his game to a peak level and stay there for the Crimson Tide defense to be successful.
Best-case scenario: He has the size. He has the skill. And maybe most importantly, he has the confidence to play the position. The former No. 2-rated cornerback in the class of 2012 had to come back down to earth when Saban got a hold of him and turned him into a whipping boy of sorts on the practice field. But when Smith came out on the other side, he was all the better for it, learning from one of the best defensive backs coaches in the country.
Worst-case scenario: Smith and the Alabama defense will be walking the tightrope in terms of depth at cornerback. Beyond Smith and Belue, there's only one experienced player at the position, senior John Fulton, and even he's a question mark coming back from surgery to repair a turf toe injury that cost him most of the spring. In a way, Smith will be on an island even before he becomes a shutdown corner. Because if he fails or is injured, the results could be disastrous for the Tide.
Future impact: There hasn't been a season where Saban hasn't had a star cornerback to rely on at Alabama, going back to Kareem Jackson and Javier Arenas in the early days. Dre Kirkpatrick gave way to Dee Milliner, and now it appears that Smith is next in line to make a name for himself at the position. Like the true freshman on the other side of the football -- running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Amari Cooper -- Tide fans should expect two more years of service and hope for a third because it doesn't seem like the NFL will wait on any of their talents for long.