Tykee Smith: What Georgia is really getting in the All-American safety transfer
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry actually covers what the Bulldogs are getting in All-American transfer Tykee Smith. Smith is already in Athens after moving in this month.
Tykee Smith will be one of three very high-profile impact transfers for Georgia in 2021. The Philadelphia native likely has the best on-field resume of the three (Derion Kendrick and Arik Gilbert also loom large) heading into the fall.
Smith was a freshman All-American after the 2019 season. The Associated Press went on to name him a third-team All-American after his second season in 2020.
The praise only continues from there.
The scouting-intensive outlet Pro Football Focus now also rates Smith as the nation’s No. 1 returning safety for the 2021 season.
Smith was once rated as a 3-star recruit, the nation’s No. 43 safety and the No. 526 overall prospect for the 247Sports Composite scale.
That was coming out of Imhotep Institute in the 2019 cycle. That’s the same class as rising junior 5-star talents like Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith and Travon Walker.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound junior played substantially in the pass-heavy Big 12 conference in his career. He will now also be playing for his old West Virginia position coach Jahmile Addae in Athens. Addae will be well-positioned to know how to most effectively use the dynamic athlete and savvy in-space tackler.
Smith is not just a dynamic athlete or a physical defender. He has a mental component to his game. It is undeniably his greatest tool.
“I think the biggest thing with him is his memory is amazing,” Johnson said. “He can sit here and tell you plays like specific plays and coverages and adjustments we made in games going back to his sophomore year in high school.”
“I mean he remembers exactly. I remember a time where it was his senior year of high school and we were preparing for Bethlehem Catholic and it was like the Eastern final for the state playoffs,” Johnson said. “It was the game to get to the state championship and we were going through in practice like a certain coverage or formation that they were in. He was like ‘Coach last year we played this team and I think like we should do this again.’ I totally forgot about it. We remembered that and took that suggestion and that’s what we ended up doing in the game. He’s like a coach out there on the field. He’s special. Like that memory of his is amazing.”
These stories with Smith only get better.
“He can remember specific plays from each game,” Johnson said. “I also remember this specific instance from his junior year. Our best player got in some trouble right before the game. This was the Eastern final of his junior year against the same team in Bethlehem Catholic. We found out that afternoon and we had him in the gym and it was like our game was at seven o’clock that night. He had been playing safety for us and he was also filling in at receiver but he was also our most valuable player.”
This specific series of events cost Imhotep its top running back.
“We were sitting in the gym like two hours before we had to load the buses teaching him the offensive plays and the run plays like that,” Johnson said. “To go over and walk through it with him. He went on to run for like 250 yards and five touchdowns to send us to the state finals his junior year. That was one of the truly great and special performances we have had in Imhotep football history. Leaning and playing the running back position like that three hours before the game and for him to perform like that was amazing.”
His football program was in awe.
“You couldn’t do anything but salute him for that,” Johnson said. “That just shows who he is. He studies it. He eats it. Lives it. Breathes it. Whenever he is home, he is coming to our practices and workouts in the weight room and to our games. He’s supporting our kids. Giving them tips.”
“Georgia is getting somebody who loves the game of football. That is what he does.”
Johnson sees Smith as a future coach after his time in the NFL.
“He’ll be a coach for somebody or their Director of Football Operations because he just loves football that much. He just wants to be around the game somehow.”
Smith is a funny guy to be around. Those that know him well just call him “Tyk” when he is around.
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What motivates Tykee Smith?
Johnson has an opinion on why Smith is driven to excel in the game of football.
“I think his family is number one for him,” Smith said. “His Mom of course. He’s got a lot of cousins and his older brothers. But I think he is just one of those competitive dudes who just has the desire to be the best and to be great. It doesn’t matter who he lines up in front of. It is a game in front of 80,000 people or just competing in front of nobody else in just a team workout. He wants to beat you. To prove it to you. Like the [Michael] Jordans or the Kobe [Bryants] who just have that competitive nature that is even more special than his athletic ability. That’s him.”
“It doesn’t matter what it is. He just has to win. He just has that built-in competitive nature.”
Smith was largely a strong safety and a nickel corner in high school. He moved around his senior year. When his team played future No. 1 draft pick Micah Parsons and Harrisburg his junior year, he would up playing cornerback that game.
That was because his team wasn’t getting optimum play from that spot. Smith stepped in there and was up to the task. He even lined up at linebacker in some packages.
“That’s because he was such a great blitzer,” Johnson said.
Do you sense a trend? Smith is the type of player that is highly versatile that will stay on the field even in the SEC. He played running back, receiver, “Wildcat” quarterback and was both a kickoff and punt returner for his high school team.
“Just a baller, man,” Johnson said. “This might sound like I am lying but I really just can’t say enough good stuff about him.”
One last impressive story about Tykee Smith
The final telling statement from Johnson has to do with his prowess for being a “film junkie” around the program.
“When we had our films up on HUDL he was also the player that had the most HUDL minutes logged in on our team,” Johnson said. “He was the one always saying to the staff ‘When are ya’ll going to share this film with us?’ and this is like on the way home from the games. Our guy was always very good about uploading the film right then and there and he was always the guy watching the film on the way home on the bus from the game.”
Smith was then the first one asking about getting to then see the film of the opponent for the next week. That was the very next day, if not sooner.
“Without a doubt, the greatest tool he has in his arsenal for being a great player is his mind,” Johnson said. “It really is something. He just gets it. Once he really understood our defense and its main concepts, I would just let him do his thing. He knew what to do out there and he had great instincts. He was really like a very smart coach in the body of our most valuable and best player out there. He would know what the offense was going to do before they did it. His anticipation was just crazy.”
He initially chose between North Carolina and West Virginia. Why is Smith now a Bulldog?
“I think the biggest thing to him is he wanted to play in those big games and be on a bigger stage,” Johnson said. “He had great success at West Virginia and he loved Morgantown to death, but when he decided to enter the portal and start looking at different schools it was really about being able to play on a big stage and be able to show what he can do against top competition. He wants to compete for an SEC championship and hopefully play in the college football playoff. Just to show what he can do. Continue what he started at West Virginia but just do it on a higher level. Georgia just made the most sense by what they have got coming back and just their tradition of winning.”
Addae was also a factor, but Johnson felt that Smith would have still chosen to play for UGA in the SEC.
“I mean with Georgia’s tradition and all that is hard to say no to,” he said. “There’s the opportunity to compete for SEC championships and national titles at that level. That’s the central theme with Tykee here. The competitiveness. He’s there to prove himself.”
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