Miami football: Keontra Smith could be playmaker needed at linebacker

Dec 29, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

After four tackles, a sack, a pass breakup and “a big tackle where it really felt like we had to change momentum kind of get the defense back going again and got everybody fired up on that sideline” according to head coach Manny Diaz, Keontra Smith could be the playmaker the Miami football team needs at linebacker.

Smith moved from striker to linebacker this spring after he signed with the Miami football program as safety in 2019. Miami returns starting middle linebacker Bradley Jennings Jr. in 2021. Jennings is facing starch competition to remain a starter in 2021. Smith is competing to be a starter as the other Miami LB.

In his second season with Miami in 2020, Smith was a solid contributor as the backup to Gilbert Frierson at striker. Playing all 11 games in 2020, Smith had 22 tackles, two tackles for loss and one pass breakup. Listed at 5’11, 205 pounds, Smith is undersized for a LB but provides Miami with much-needed speed.

Outside LBs coach, Jonathan Patke worked with Smith last season as the Strikers coach. Patke stated that Smith was the best LB during the first training camp scrimmage on Sunday. Smith stood out for his playmaking ability according to Patke. Smith told reporters on Tuesday that he played LB in high school.

Smith had developed each season. As a freshman in 2019, Smith played in seven games, mostly on special teams recording two tackles. Smith was asked about the best game he has had in college and mentioned the

48-0 victory over Duke

last season. Smith had six tackles and both of his TFLs against the Blue Devils in 2020.

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With just over two weeks until Miami begins the season against Alabama in Atlanta, the completion to be the Miami starting LBs will likely continue throughout training camp. Smith is making a strong case to be a starter with his playmaking ability. Miami has one more scrimmage before getting ready for Alabama.