Marcus High School -- Flower Mound, Texas
Tight end. 6'5" 250 pounds.
Rivals Rank: Four stars; #3 tight end.
ESPN Rank: Four stars; #2 tight end.
Scout Rank: Four stars; #2 tight end.
247 Rank: Four stars; #2 tight end.
Key Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Michigan, Texas, Texas A&M
In the past five years Stanford has been a tight end factory, developing Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz, Levine Toilolo, and Austin Hooper and sending them on to the NFL. If you were an elite high school tight end, why would you consider anywhere else? Kaden Smith fits that description, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that he chose to follow in those footsteps.
All you really need to know about Smith is revealed at the top of this post -- he was rated as one of the top two or three prep tight ends in America, and he was coveted by college football royalty. He turned down eight SEC offers, and in the end his decision came down to Alabama and Stanford, with the Cardinal obviously getting the nod.
Watching his senior year highlight video, it takes only about thirty seconds to start feeling sorry for his high school foes; after a minute or two you begin to worry about his future Pac-12 opponents. Yes, he's that good. What jumps out immediately is Smith's incredible versatility. He's clearly the top athlete on his team, so he's used in a variety of ways -- as a traditional tight end lined up along the line of scrimmage, as an extra blocker in the running game, and as a wide receiver split out wide. He excels in all three roles, but it's his pass catching ability that truly sets him apart. Whether he's coming across the field on a short crossing route or galloping free down the middle or outleaping smaller defenders on a fade route, he always catches the ball with his hands. (How good are his hands? Check out this video from last spring in which Smith breaks Odell Beckham, Jr's Guiness world record for most one-handed catches in a minute.) This isn't a big kid learning the game, this is an elite athlete who will be a matchup nightmare in the Pac-12 and beyond.
With the current tight end depth on the Stanford roster it's unlikely that Smith will see the field in 2016, but the thought of playing him along with Dalton Schultz and Greg Taboada to form another tight end triplet group could prove too much for David Shaw to resist. Either way, the future could not be brighter for Kaden Smith and Stanford football.