It’s time to officially put Tyrin Smith back in your queue…
God, I love West Texas
– Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
There are few things more disappointing in CFF than when a Group-of-Five (G5) standout transfers up a level to the Power-Five (P5). Sometimes it works out, but in most cases, they fall into CFF irrelevancy. That might have been the case with today’s player—Tyrin Smith, but thankfully, we’ll never know now.
UTEP’s Smith originally made the move to Texas A&M early in the offseason after a strong season with the Miners. Rumors began swirling in early 2023 that he was thinking of moving back—turns out that being third fiddle (at best) in a passing attack predicated on Jimbo Fish…— excuse me — Bobby Petrino’s offensive acumen isn’t as attractive as it sounds.
With Smith’s return to West Texas, my VP interns tell me that come hell or high water, I better make damn sure that I acquire Tyrin Smith in CFF re-drafts this summer. With some in the CFF community currently unaware that he even left A&M, acquiring Smith is as easy as robbing a Texas Midland bank first thing in the morning.
Coaching & System
Head coach Dana Dimel has been with the Miners program since 2018. Over that time span, he has had two 1000-yard pass catchers in Tyrin Smith (2022) and Jacob Cowing (2021). Smith caught 71 passes for 1,039 yards and seven TDs on 126 targets over 12 games in 2021. Cowing caught 69 passes for 1,354 yards and seven TDs on 114 targets over 13 games in 2022. Smith’s target numbers average 10.5 per game, and Cowing’s at 8.76 per game.
It’s interesting that of Dimel’s tenure as coach of UTEP, his only two 1,000-yard WRs were in the last two seasons. What new ingredient could have changed the philosophy of the program such that the WR1 is now highly coveted? I wonder…
Enter OC Scotty Ohara, who took over as pass-game coordinator and OC in 2021. He had previously served as UTEP’s WRs coach only from 2018-2021. Since Ohara’s been more involved, the WR1 has finished each season with over 1,000 yards.
I should also point out that prior to joining UTEP, Dana Dimel served as the co-OC at Kansas State (KSU) from 2011-2017. Of those seven years, he had three 1,000-yard WRs in Tyler Locket (2014, 2013), who caught 106 passes for 1,515 yards and 11 TDs in 2014, and 81 passes for 1,262 yards and 11 TDs in 2013. Curry Sexton (2014) caught 79 passes for 1,059 yards and five TDs.
Additionally, QB Gavin Hardison, who has started the last two seasons, is returning. Hardison hasn’t been very good in his career—in fact, it’s a miracle that UTEP has supported the WR production it has, given how often they run the ball and how ineffective their QB play has been. Even still, anytime there is a returning QB with two years of starting experience coming back, it makes me feel more confident about the situation. At the very least, we know that ol’ Hardy likes to lock on his guy—Smith was that guy last season.
This is a good offense to invest in at the WR position, and lucky for us, their best WR from last year is back.
WR Tyrin Smith — 5’7″, 170 lbs.
Smith spent his first season of collegiate football at the JuCo level with Cibolo College. He then transferred to UTEP for the 2021 season and had a solid showing behind as Jacob Cowing’s support man: 33 receptions (53 targets), 570 yards, and four TDs (8.6 FPG in 1PPR).
It was in 2022 when Smith found himself on CFF rosters for the first time. As the Miners’ go-to guy, he had a very strong season: 71 receptions (126 targets), 1,039 yards, and seven TDs (18.4 FPG).
Smith is the definition of a volume pig at WR, finishing only four games out of twelve with less than double-digit targets in 2022. While he was a three-star prospect out of Cibolo, TX, coming out of high school, safe to say he’s outplayed the ranking. How good is he really if he couldn’t make it at A&M? Well, I guess we’ll never know—we know he’s elite for the C-USA level, though, and that’s all that matters for our purposes.
His QB, Hardison, was the starter last season and the year before. So we know the UTEP QB has no problem with locking onto his main guy, as, despite shoddy efficiency and play, Hardison’s managed to support both Cowing and Smith to 1,000+ yard seasons back-to-back. Lovely.
Despite being a transfer, the good thing here is it’s really more like Smith never left. He’s familiar with the offense, the coaches, and the QB. By the sounds of his quotes upon his return, he seems locked in and bought into what UTEP can do as a whole in 2023:
The ceiling is high for this team to go out there and win it all. Everyone is bought in and focused on achieving the goals we all know we can achieve
- The same concern from last season and the season before: the team overall was not very effective on offense. The QB play, in particular, has been poor. Despite that, as mentioned, they’ve had back-to-back seasons with 1,000-yard WRs.
His ADP is actually higher than I was expecting—97.1, which is around the eighth round, but this is climbing quickly. In June, he was selected around 51st, which is just outside the fourth round. He’ll probably settle in around the top three rounds as drafts continue, so even now, he’s still a deal.
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