Cannon Shot: Smith learning to be a complete tight end


by - Staff Writer -
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Smith celebrates after a Clemson touchdown in the Orange Bowl
Smith celebrates after a Clemson touchdown in the Orange Bowl

CLEMSON – Jordan Leggett is the unquestioned leader of the tight end corps, but behind him there is a four-way battle for who will take those second team snaps and who will ultimately fill the void when he departs after the 2016 season.

For Garrett Williams, Milan Richard, D.J. Greenlee, and Cannon Smith spring practice was about getting better and improving their overall game.

Smith – the redshirt sophomore out of Columbia (SC) and son of Bill Smith, who played defensive end on Clemson’s national championship team – has been known as a player who isn’t afraid to get dirty and help Deshaun Watson or Wayne Gallman find the endzone or the tough third-down yardage.

However, he told TigerNet recently that he wants to become a complete tight end and become a receiving threat as well.

“I believe the emphasis and focus that I need to have was to work on my speed and route running,” Smith said before the conclusion of spring practice. “That was always kind of a weak part of my game because last year I did a lot of blocking and stuff. I'm just trying to work on getting faster, catching and improving my game overall.”

At 6-5, 260 pounds, the blocking aspect came easy to Smith, but he said he’s had to work with Leggett and tight ends coach Danny Pearman to add the route running and catching capabilities to his repertoire.

“I've always taken great pride in being a physical blocker. There's a lot of pride in that for me. I like to be physical,” Smith said. “Being a guy that's known to help push that pile means a lot. Improving the other aspects of my game starts in the film room and just taking Coach Pearman's corrections and applying it to the field. Jordan has given us a lot of advice because he's really good at route running. I'm just taking his advice and trying to apply it as well. I feel like all of the tight ends have improved this spring in many different aspects.”

Despite the intense competition for playing time, Smith said he and his teammates are always together and improving their camaraderie.

“Absolutely. We love each other. We all hang out, get food, hang out at each other's houses. We're a pretty tight-knit group,” he said.

Smith was asked to describe everyone in the tight end room, and below is what he had to say about his teammates.

Jordan Leggett

"Very smart guy."

Garrett Williams

"Very tough. He's a very tough kid."

Milan Richard

"Very diverse. He's able to block well. His blocking has improved tremendously. He's able to run routes, and he has good hands."

D.J. Greenlee

"Overall, he can do it all. He's very physical at the point of attack. His route running has improved very much, and he can be a guy for us during the season."

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