Notre Dame OT target Trey Smith high on Harry Hiestand

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

ADDISON, Ill. — Trey Smith kept his head down, his massive hands clenched into fists, shivering as the wind whipped and stray sleet pellets fell from an inconsolably gray Chicago sky.

“How’s the weather treating you?” the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Jackson, Tenn., native was asked.

“Terrible,” the offensive lineman responded with an exasperated grin. “Terrible! It’s something about me going up north. Something always happens. I went to Notre Dame and it started snowing last time. I guess we have a little bit of ice falling here.”

At The Opening Regional camp in the Chicago area on Saturday, Smith treated opposing defensive linemen even worse. Ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2017 class by ESPN as well as a four-star recruit by both Rivals and 247Sports, Smith routinely muscled overmatched pass-rushers away from the cone acting as his quarterback in one-on-one drills. He repeatedly stoned inferior competition, including 2018 defensive end and Notre Dame target Malik Vann, standing them up at the line of scrimmage or shoving them mercilessly to the artificial turf.

One defensive lineman even thrust his hand upward into Smith’s face, opening a cut that would gush blood around the offensive tackle’s nose and mouth.

Smith stopped him, then sought medical attention, then proceeded to keep stopping everybody else.

“(I want to show) just that I’m elite, No. 1,” Smith said on Saturday. “I want to back that up a little bit and show my power and my skills.”

Harry Hiestand already has seen plenty. One of Smith’s more than 20 scholarship offers came from Notre Dame. The highly coveted offensive lineman visited campus for the first time on April 2, and despite the weather — which was frustratingly similar to Saturday’s 40-degree display — the Tennessee native was impressed by what he saw.

“The campus is unlike any I’ve ever seen,” Smith said. “It’s like a cathedral. It’s beautiful, pristine, impeccable. It’s a beautiful campus.”

Smith was perhaps more impressed with Hiestand, Notre Dame’s well regarded offensive line coach, who has kept in steady contact with Smith since the visit.

“That’s the dude,” Smith said. “We have a really good relationship. Coach Hiestand is serious and sincere, the two S’s. He’s not going to make a pitch or story. He’s straightforward with you, and I love that about him.

“He’s going to tell you if you’re doing awful. He’s going to tell you if you’re doing good. He’s not going to sugarcoat anything.”

Hiestand wouldn’t have had to sugarcoat anything on Saturday. Smith was perhaps the camp’s top performer, and he earned an invitation to The Opening Finals at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in July, for his efforts.

By that time, Smith said he likely will have released a list of top eight schools as he continues to narrow his recruitment. A verbal commitment is expected to come in mid-December.

Whether Notre Dame lands his services is still to be determined. But if he can handle the cold, Smith knows where four years with Hiestand can take him.

“Ronnie Stanley. Zack Martin. Nick Martin,” Smith said, listing names of Notre Dame offensive linemen that have recently arrived in the NFL. “That’s huge, because the end goal hopefully, if God wills it, is that I want to get to the NFL.

“I just want to see (Hiestand’s) production, and obviously he’s producing dudes. Zack Martin was all-pro in his rookie year. That doesn’t happen by a fluke. He’s being taught well.”

With the right commitment and coaching, Smith’s name could eventually be added to the list.


Twitter: @mikevorel

Notre Dame offensive tackle target Trey Smith participated in The Opening Regional camp in the Chicago area on Saturday (photo courtesy Student Sports).