Feb. 5, 2014
Auburn's late push snared offensive lineman Braden Smith
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn coaches tuned in to TV like all the recruiting junkies to see where offensive lineman Braden Smith would attend school.
They cheered in the Auburn recruiting war room when the big lineman from Kansas picked the Tigers.
"That's a big one right there," said Gus Malzahn.
Scout rates him as the No. 1 guard in the nation.
Auburn turned to Smith late in the recruiting process after tackle Greg Robinson's early departure for the NFL. Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes made up for lost time in getting Smith to sign. He's 6-foot-6 or so and 285.
"You put the tape on and a he's playing guard, so he's running a lot," Grimes said. "They pull their guards a lot like we do. You sit there and you are watching this kid and you know he's a legitimate size guy.
"He's stronger than train smoke. And then you put the tape on and watch him run. Then you watch him bend. He plays with really, really low pad level.
"I see a guy I think is long enough to play tackle and I see a guy that can run and is athletic enough to play tackle. My first thought is let's find out if he can play tackle. Since we lost a good tackle, it'd be nice to get an athletic guy and find out."
Smith had 82 pancake blocks on offense and 59 tackles on defense. His father played football at Kansas.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine