KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Trey Smith is staying for his senior season.
Arguably the most consistent Tennessee offensive lineman over the last three seasons, Smith stayed true to form Thursday in announcing his return to the Vols instead of entering the NFL Draft early.
“He’s probably one of the better football players in the entire country and he’s done that without being able to practice each week,” Coach Jeremy Pruitt said.
Smith has started nearly every game since he arrived on campus in 2017. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound offensive lineman from Jackson, Tennessee, was considered one of the top NFL prospects despite developing blood clots in his lungs during his sophomore year.
“We have a great plan, we have a great medical staff,” Smith said.
He returned after missing five games in 2018 to start 11 games this season at for the Vols.
For his efforts, Smith was named All-SEC first team by the Associated Press and the SEC coaches. He was named All-SEC second team by Pro Football Focus.
Smith is also a finalist for the 2019 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award. The winner will be announced Feb. 18 at a ceremony in Frisco, Texas.
Smith said the team’s improvement down the stretch didn’t impact his decision to return but that he “definitely wants to be a part of it.”
He went on to say the team has unfinished business after an 8-5 season. The Vols will have one of the longest winning streaks in the country to start 2020 after they won their last 6 games and seven of their last eight.
The Tennessee offensive line had its two best offensive outputs in back-to-back weeks to end the regular season. The line protected quarterback Jarrett Guarantano allowing him to throw for 415 yards in a win over Missouri on Nov. 23. A week later, the Tennessee rushing attack amassed a season-high 297 yards against rival Vanderbilt.