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Belated 31 Days to Kickoff! - Braden Smith

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - UCF v Auburn Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.

THE RECRUIT

“One of the most physically impressive specimens in the country. He is a beast in the weightroom and that strength shows on tape. He has quick feet and good athleticism which allows him to pull effectively. Even though he is very muscular he is not robotic with his movement. He plays low, with good pad level and shows good flexibility. He plays both ways in high school and could play OT, OG or DT in college. He is a no frills, hard-nosed player.” - 247 Sports

Coming out of a small town in Kansas, Smith was a highly sought after national recruit in the 2014 class. The Hulk of an offensive lineman chose Auburn on signing day over offers from Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, Stanford, Notre Dame, USC, and several more.

Smith’s strength was well-documented as a high schooler. This video shows him hitting 3 reps of 515 lbs on the bench as a senior, which is just bonkers.

THE PLAYER

Smith followed in Shon Coleman’s footsteps as a freshman, playing the “6th lineman” role in Gus’s offense as a freshman. While he didn’t get to take many snaps with the 1’s as a true guard, his athleticism and experience pulling (he played in a wing-t offense in high school) made him the perfect candidate to be a blocking tight end or pulling lead blocker.

Smith’s first start came in the 2014 Outback Bowl, and he entered 2015 as the starter at right guard. Smith bounced back and forth between guard and tackle as a sophomore, but started in every game. In fact, Smith would start every game from the 2014 Outback Bowl through the 2017 Peach Bowl against UCF, 41 games in total. A model of health and consistency, the Kansan played in all 53 games of his career. Smith earned 2nd team All-American honors and first team All-SEC honors in 2016, and improved on that for his senior year, when he he was a first team All-American by most outlets. Smith was also on the SEC Honor Role all four years and a captain his senior year.

It’s tough to describe the affect a guard has on an offense, but Smith noticeably dominated his competition most of the time. His play at Auburn earned him a second round selection by the Colts in the 2018 NFL Draft. Since then, he’s only started 13 games a rookie and has been dubbed by head coach Frank Reich as “the best-kept secret in the NFL”. Smith helped lead a renaissance on the Colts offensive line, which helped Andrew Luck FINALLY stay healthy after several injury-plagued years.

Despite several former starts from Auburn offensive lines struggling once they reach the NFL, Smith has been an unquestionable success as a rookie. Which doesn’t come as a surprise to any Auburn fans.

Along with being a star on the gridiron, Smith proved to be a true Auburn man when he married Auburn softball catcher Courtney Shea.