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LSU ODYSSEY...HOME OF CHAMPIONS
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
DEION SMITH 2021 PROFILE
640 RECEIVING YARDS
17.8 YARDS PER CATCH
7 RECEIVING TDs
189 RUSHING YARDS
2 RUSHING TDs
159 KO RETURN YARDS
1 KO RET TD
-Four games of 2+ TDs
24.6 Yards Per Catch
1 Kickoff Return Touchdown
1 Punt Return Touchdown
-First Team All State
-Clarion Ledger's Dandy Dozen Team of The Year
-#1 Overall Player in the state of Mississippi
You rarely see the #1 football prospect in Mississippi (and 7th overall wide receiver in the country) transfer high schools on the cusp of their senior year.
But 2020 has been a different year, no matter who you ask...and it was a decision Deion Smith and his family felt compelled to make.
Deion Smith wasn't going to let a postponement or cancellation deny his ability to play football in 2020....sadly, he left Provine High against his own wishes, a place where he was close to setting a multitude of receiving records and transferred to private school Jackson Academy, and...predictably, he's finding his stride beautifully...this time with an added motivating edge in these new surroundings.
The 2021 LSU commit caught 2 touchdowns, grabbed 5 catches the previous week and appears to be yet another prime time superstar when he joins the Tigers next season.
The biggest reason we make this bold statement?
Deion was 172 last year: slim, thin and a little slight for the hard hitting dangers his talents will inevitably attract over the middle and in the air....now that he's gained 13 pounds, thickening up to 192 ("extra pandemic weight" as trainer Shay Hodge called it), we feel Deion is truly ready;
Believe it or not, no matter how talented some guys are in high school, a good amount of kids fail to make it at the collegiate level due to a biological inability to modify their bodies how they see fit.
However, after this display of growth and power, we believe Deion will definitely continue to girth up his mid-section, his arms and his calves in order to survive the brutalities of an SEC schedule. Taking what he's learned under the guidance of Hodge, once he arrives on campus under the intensity and results of LSU's S&C Impresario Tommy Moffitt, Deion could easily end up at 215-220 by the off-season before his sophomore year....he has been trained supremely well for years at this point and his length make this a possible goal.
Why are we so worried about Deion's weight?
His girth is truly the only deficiency we detected within his flawless game and he's already addressed that tiny, at times overrated and always creepy measureables-obsession.
You can say whatever you want about someone's size, but anyone who's ever played the game (yes that would include this author too) knows the real cold hard truth:
Despite the obvious 6'6 OT being able to take out the 5'6, 155 car salesman, football is really all about will, drive, combat and stamina:
Those who can survive the test of brutality, those who can outpace the opposition and get their bodies out of harm's way, those who understand you have to forget about your previous failure and look toward your next domination....those are the people who survive ten years in the NFL...those are the guys who cut it at LSU...and Deion Smith possesses every single one of those hard-nosed attributes.
Deion Smith was a sorcerer at Provine High School, excelling under the training of brilliant football whisperer Shay Hodge; Every DB In the entire state of Mississippi was held hostage by his breathtaking ability to socially distance the secondary...holding DBs for ransom within a prison of their own mind...Deion's reality.
Just as a bolt of Caged Lightning threatens to tear itself from the bonds of this planetary realm, Deion geauxs above and beyond what's required as an all-encompassing brickhouse powerhouse.
Smith's pace is second to none, a true marvel when you see him in open space or tight quarters equally, frequently able to wriggle his way out of danger or shield himself from the impact of destructive hits.
Averaging 24.6 yards per catch throughout 2019, Deion not only displays a knack for incendiary big play ability, at 19 touchdowns he finishes what he starts, he moves the chains with an automatic virtuosity, and though sometimes he relies too much on his chest to catch the ball, he's damn near untouchable once in the air.
"This is going to be a strong statement that I’m going to say, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school receiver in my life that is as good as he is and he can be,” former Ole Miss receiver Mike Espy said in an interview with the Clarion Ledger. "That kid is just special. All the intangibles. He has the wiggle like a short receiver."
Espy continues: "One of the things that people know, but you might not be able to tell is that he's fast. Because he's so tall, his stride is a bit wide, so it doesn't look like he's moving, but he's moving."
Yes he does, completely battering Mississippi's 5A defenses over the course of 2019. Many of Smith's touchdowns featured a slant route, a quick catch and before anyone can blink, suddenly #7 ascends through a crowded secondary untouched, none of these defenders able to come close.
DBs found Deion impossible to cover, track or harness in any way....and when the ball was in the air, Smith had a 93% catch probability rating during 2019 (using every 50/50 target), he proved to be an insatiable red zone ambassador, has been nothing but imperious in the air, and he tops the complete package off with his dynamic, delirious, devastatingly surgical play-making in the return game.
Wanna know what really makes Deion Smith a special commitment for the Tigers' 2021 class?
His hilarious free bird personality off the field fuels his play-making, history-taking domination on game nights:
Deion loves cartoons (his Twitter profile photo is one of Batman's "The Joker"), his Instagram and Tiktok profiles are exploding with massive followings, and Smith is a fun kid, making sure everyone within his grasp feels as loose as he does.
"He likes to play, he likes to laugh, he likes to giggle, and he's just a kid," Provine head football coach Tim Wilson told the Clarion Ledger this past July. "We want him to mature a little bit more because he's Deion and the publicity he's getting, but you still have to understand he's just a kid. He's a good kid, I don't have a lot of problems out of him. He's just a fun guy."
Deion seems to fit right in line alongside many of LSU's Legends: young men with a fun mentality which added an unpredictable spark to their play on the field.
Defenders knew how to get inside someone like Terrell Owens' head...DBs know how to rattle OBJ....you lock your jaws onto their extrovert personality and tear at their positivity piece by piece, play by play, one successful jam and broken up pass after another.... until the high-profile WR becomes only a shell of frustrated failure; but Deion has an enigmatic edge attached to his goofy, ultra-talented persona which will allow him to escape this same fate, much like DB Tyrann Mathieu or WR D.J Chark....he may be fun, he might smile more than frown, although you'll only need a few glimpses at his game footage & a couple conversations with family, teammates or coaches to understand his unbreakable, unshakeable edge.
Shay Hodge, former first team-All SEC wide receiver at Ole Miss and NFL player at Washington (my team!!) and for the New Orleans Saints happens to also be Deion's trainer, mentor and once offensive coordinator at Provine, and the steadfast former Rebel told us via text message:
"I believe Deion could go down as the best receiver ever from Mississippi coming out of the high school ranks not college or pro that’s yet to be seen. He has all the God given gifts of size, speed, quickness, elite ball skills, twitch, long stride, competitiveness, and IQ.
He can process things fast, will work hard to prove that he’s the best. He was a joy to coach because he reminded me of me from how it took someone who played or did something to get through to me, he was the same. He instantly took to me when I became his offensive coordinator at Provine High School his 10th grade year.
We have had a father/son bond ever since. I coach in the 7v7 ranks as well, and whole heartily believes he’s the best receiver in the nation along with a lot of other college coaches and NFL coaches and players that have seen him.
His future is extremely bright. I can only see injuries derailing his future of being a 1st round pick in the NFL draft. This is not because I was his coach this is because I’ve been that player & seen how league guys are, he’s got the same pedigree.
Deion's best attribute is his athleticism and ball skills. He can really play basketball as well, the kid can really go up and get the ball. Seen plenty of one hand catches over 2 & 3 guys in practice and 7v7 national competition.
His personality is one of a kind. The kid think he’s so cool and smooth, and I just admit he is. He’s a smooth operator overall and very well liked by his peers and coaches. He’s a very good teammate always uplifting and joking around with his teammates. He’s very loyal as well, plenty of people tried to tarnish our relationship and he told them all I’m rolling with Coach I believe in him. Brought tears to my eyes because he knew a lot of them way longer than he knew me, it was an instant bond. I projected his life to him before it all happened. He didn’t believe it because it took longer to happen than he thought it should have. I told him he would be a top 5 player in Mississippi by his senior year, he would have all the big offers that he wanted, he would be a dandy dozen (top 12 player in the state of Mississippi), an All American, and one of the top 10 receivers in the country. Fast forward to this year, he texted me after it all and said 'man coach you’re the realist dude I’ve ever met, you told me this a long time ago and it all happened, Thank You.'
I’m sensitive to a certain extent, these kids make me cry when they are appreciative of your efforts. That’s all I ask for in all that I do while heartily. Him and his very talented brother Dan Smith love each other, but fight. Or how he will make spectacular plays over people in games of 7v7 and always say 'yup taking my kids to daycare' (laugh emojis) or post the picture of him jumping over them and tag them laughing. Usually that would turn into a heated argument, his peers like h