The Early Signing Period for college football began on Wednesday, and National Letters of Intent have been flying in from all over the country. While most of those NLIs are not sent in via fax machine anymore, commitments are not official until paperwork is completed. The South Carolina football program is hoping to have most of their class secured by the end of the Early Signing Period.
One of the players in the class who made things official is 4-star tight end Michael Smith.
Recruiting Ranking: 4 stars (consensus)
Measurables: 6'4"; 235 pounds; 4.5-second 40-yard dash; 39-inch vertical
Former Player Comp: Jared Cook
Michael Smith is the highest-rated tight end signee in South Carolina football history according to 247Sports. That's saying something as the Gamecocks have put several big-time tight ends in the NFL.
Smith is a pass-catcher first. Operating at times like a big wide receiver, he is a natural target in jump ball situations as he has good ball skills and body control on the ball in the air. However, he is not limited to red zone usage. Smith can run and has a little wiggle for a big guy.
Just because his best tight end skills have to do with his ability to catch the ball doesn't mean that he can't block. In fact, Smith likes to block. He isn't the world's best at the point of attack, but the fact that he likes to be involved in the run game is a good sign for his future development as a blocker.
Jared Cook is the first name that comes to mind when watching Michael Smith's film. He isn't quite as tall as Cook, but both players were smooth movers with major body control and impressive athleticism. Cook went on to a top-15 tight end career in the history of the NFL, so Michael Smith can become the type of player his predecessor was, South Carolina football fans will be extremely happy.
Smith's role in 2024 is difficult to determine. The Savannah, Georgia native could be Josh Simon's understudy next fall as the two players profile similarly. Thanks to Simon's return to Columbia, the transfer portal addition of Brady Hunt, and Smith's signing, fans probably can expect that at least one other tight end will leave the program after spring practice, opening up a potential small role for Smith as the team's third or fourth tight end.
You can watch some of his film here.