Kwinton Smith hauled in a 25-yard touchdown Saturday, his first score in a scrimmage setting at South Carolina.
The redshirt freshman receiver’s primary objective of the spring remains a work in progress, but Saturday’s catch can only help, he says.
“My goal is to be No. 1 on the depth chart at my position,” he said. “I’m still working for that, learning from the guys ahead of me and see what they do best and try to take from that and add to my game.”
There aren’t as many players ahead of Smith as there were in 2012. Ace Sanders, D.L. Moore and DeAngelo Smith are gone.
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There also aren’t many scholarship receivers as tall as Smith. He and redshirt sophomore K.J. Brent are both 6-foot-4 (walk-on Matthew Harvey is 6-foot-8).
Smith and fellow class of 2012 signees Shaq Roland and Jody Fuller are each working to carve a niche in the USC passing game. They watch film together, talk about their progress and try to help each other improve, Smith said.
For now, Smith is working behind junior Nick Jones at one of the three receiver spots.
“It’s all of us working hard right now,” Smith said. “We know spots are open. Right now guys are trying to make statements and show coaches what they can do. Everybody out here has a point to prove.”
Smith had 34 receptions for 564 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Dillon in the Wildcats’ run-first offense. He caught 42 balls for 809 yards and 15 scores as a junior.
Rated a four-star receiver by Scout, ESPN and 247Sports, he picked South Carolina over offers from Alabama, Florida and LSU, among others.
Smith is fully focused on football after trying out for the USC baseball team in January and February. The two-sport athlete was a 14th round pick by the Texas Rangers in the 2012 draft and will try out for Chad Holbrook’s squad again next season.
“I enjoyed it for the little time it lasted. I kind of miss it a little bit,” he said. “I’ll definitely try it again because it’s something I love.”
Knowing the plays and being able to read defenses on the fly are something he’s improved on, Smith said. Being able to catch the ball is just as important to coaches, he said.
Will Saturday’s touchdown catch be a sign of things to come for Smith?
“It was a good play,” he said. “I was trying to make a play on a ball I thought I could get to. I’m making good progress. I’ve been getting better and better every day. I feel like my confidence is getting up there.”