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Scouting Report: Gators WR Commit Chandler Smith

Breaking down the skillset of new Florida Gators wide receiver commit Chandler Smith.

During both of his June visits to Florida, Bishop Moore Catholic (Fla.) wide receiver Chandler Smith was compared to former Gators receiver Trevon Grimes by UF's coaching staff.

Now that he has committed to Florida, AllGators has gotten a chance to break down Smith's film for a scouting report. The comparison stacks up. 

Scouting report

Speed, speed, speed

Smith is not only a proven speedster on the track, but that speed also translates to the football field.

We'll discuss Smith's length in depth later, but in his lower half, Smith's long legs benefit him when he's releasing into a route and moving up the field on deep routes.

The initial strides out of Smith's pre-snap stance allow him to quickly put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and once's he's gotten past the point of press, Smith accelerates with ease and can quickly establish a yard or more of separation as he continues his route. Cornerbacks are left in catch-up mode from there.

As such, Smith is likely to emerge as a deep threat specialist at Florida. 

Once the ball is in his hands, Smith's speed is apparent as well as he has little issue breaking away from defenders and leaving them in the dust. This is especially impressive when Smith runs a route into traffic in the middle of the field, yet maneuvers the traffic and finds himself with nothing but green grass ahead of him. 

Florida has found plenty of success on the run-pass option, where receivers often run slants and bang-8 short posts that the quarterback quickly targets if the opposition stacks the box against the run. Smith is a candidate to be the go-to receiver on such concepts.

Smooth route breaks

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Smith has proven effective breaking into a 45-degree angle (give or take) into routes such as slants and posts, getting up the field and eliminating cornerback cushions throughout his release effectively and smoothly changing direction without wasting movement. This allows Smith to establish a step or more of separation against man coverage, and his known speed is hard to catch up with from there.

We'd like to see Smith build upon his route tree as he mainly runs 45-degree routes, go routes and patterns along the vertical stem, but the potential is there to do so. Smith can continue to improve his hip fluidity to drop into route breaks and make quick turns on digs, outs, and curls, but from what can be seen on tape, Smith's crisp footwork throughout his releases and breaks are up to par - particularly for a big-bodied receiver.

Length to make contested catches

Smith has made a handful of acrobatic catches in his college career, but there's certainly room for more as his height and length make Smith a weapon at the boundary over the average-sized cornerback. Florida will look to unlock those skills more consistently when Smith enrolls, understanding his ability to haul in a 50/50 pass more often than now.

Even now, though, Smith has a clear size advantage at 6-foot-3 that Bishop Moore utilizes within their offense. Smith has made diving receptions with his body fully stretched out and over the heads of defenders on red zone fade routes, which should remain a part of his game in college as he puts on more weight and can stack up against the strength of SEC cornerbacks. 

His length - and previously mentioned long strides - should also come in handy against press coverage. Smith's physical profile makes him a threat against corners who intend to press him as he gets off of the line quickly and can initiate contact earlier than the typical receiver given his long reach. 

If a press corner can't get his hands on the receiver first, he'll often be stuck trying to recover. And the average corner will have a tough time at the point of attack against Smith when you consider the fact that he can dictate the matchup provided his stature and speed.

Final thoughts

Smith has work to do to become an all-around, complete receiver, but the skill-set he's put on tape thus far is eerily similar to that of Grimes' before he polished his game under the guidance of UF receivers coach Billy Gonzales.

It took Grimes some time to emerge in Florida's offense as such, but that he did during his senior season which led to hauling in nine touchdown receptions. In fairness to Grimes, he also had plenty of upper-class talent ahead of him, which limited his opportunities during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. 

Smith could earn a chance to prove himself quicker than Grimes did, and it would be of little surprise to see the Gators utilize his skill-set similarly to how Grimes' was used, especially on deep routes, screens, and routes that break on a 45-degree angle.

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