Could Jonnu Smith be the best tight end in college football?

Peter Holland Jr./ Contributing Writer

It was last season on November 14th when the Golden Panthers faced Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, and starting tight end Jonnu Smith had his best game of the year. Finished the game with eight catches for 140 yards and three touchdowns. That game alone not only showed how great the Junior is, but it also his signature game of being voted honorable mention All-American from different sporting network such as ESPN, CBS sports, to Sports Illustrated.Its easy and safe to look at other good tight ends from elite football programs like UM, FSU,UF, Alabama, USC, just naming a few; However, there are some players who could be a great NFL prospect from a diamond in the rough like FIU. It worked out for T.Y. Hilton and Jonathan Cyprien, who both were drafted high in the 2nd round to NFL teams. Is Jonnu Smith next in line?

Smith finished the season with 61 catches, 710 yards and eight touchdowns. He led the nation for most catches. receiving yards and touchdowns as a tight end. He also broke the school record for most receiving yards, touchdowns and catches as a tight end. His eighth receiving touchdown broke the school record for most touchdowns that was held by T.Y. Hilton in 2008 and  Corey McKinnon in 2002. He was selected first team All Conference USA and was selected Honorable Mentioned All-American from both CBSSports.com and SportsIllustrated.com. Recently he was selected as Pre-Season First team All-Conference USA and is on the John Mackey Award watch list for best tight ends.

So why not Jonnu Smith? What’s keeping him from being a great tight end. He has the size at 6’5 255 lbs, he’s a defensive mismatch because you can line him up anywhere from his tight end spot, at slot or outside as a wideout. Either or he’s very effective; not to mention he is Alex McGough’s security blanket that bails him out whenever he needs him.  Well  better competition could elevate his NFL draft stocks, and he’s in luck because the panther’s first two games are away at UCF and at Indiana. The team really needs him to be at his best if they want to attempt to start the season 2-0 for the first  four years before playing their first home game against North Carolina Central.

Consistency is also important. Every player has a bad game most of time, however if it happens often, then that might be a problem for the Ocala native. At least he managed to score touchdowns at least once a game. He may not get the most yards or catches every game, but he always makes plays when it counts, and that should be good enough for panther nation.

It won’t surprising if Smith forgoes his senior season to enter in the NFL Draft. Some scouts say he could be projected to go second to third round if he has a productive  junior season. Some compare him to Jimmy Graham from the Seattle Seashawks to Martellius Bennett from the Chicago Bears or  Antonio Gates from the San Diego Chargers. It doesn’t matter at this point because how good Smith could be this season, this is a make or break year for FIU as they are still searching for a winning season under Head Coach Ron Turner.

Jonnu Smith maybe a sleeper now for some football critics, but if he stays fully healthy  like last season, consistent and have another productive year with a winning record, then critics should wake up and put him under the radar.

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