The 2023 running back class is one that already has folks foaming at the mouth. It certainly seems on a trajectory to rival the 2020 running back class. Amongst running back projections, size plays a large role in figuring out which running backs I want on my Devy teams. A big role in projecting the expected size comes from utilizing Noah Hills’ “Your Favorite Devy Running Back Is Too Small. Now What?” article.

EmmitT James Smith IV

Stanford Cardinals

Emmitt James Smith IV (E.J. Smith) comes from a strong lineage, growing up in a household along side Emmitt Smith. Smith IV was a 4-star prospect per Rivals.com, also garnering a 4-star rating from 247sports.com. He has a 0.9515 composite score from 247sports and a 5.9 rivals rating. He was recruited by 20 teams, most notably Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Texas, and USC. He ultimately chose Stanford University.

Smith is listed at 5-11 and 199-pounds by 247sports, while Rivals has him listed at 5-11 and 194-pounds, and Stanford has him listed as 6-0 and 208-pounds. This is a very wide disparity, so we’ll take the average of the three listings to get an average projection of his weight when he declares for the NFL. Taking the average of the three weights (200-pounds), he projects to gain 16-pounds during his collegiate career. This will project him to have a 29.29 BMI if he comes to the Combine at 6-0 and 216-pounds.

Production and Athletic Testing

As a high schooler, Emmitt James Smith IV was racking up numerous high school accolades. Among them: 2019 unanimous All-District First Team, 2018 team Most Valuable Player, and 2017 MaxPreps Sophomore All-American. On the field as a sophomore, he ran for 1,303 yards and 26 touchdowns while turning 43 receptions into 613 yards and seven scored. As a junior, he had 872 yards and 12 touchdowns, turning 39 receptions into 498 yards and five scores. Though he missed the first two games of his senior year, he had 167 carries for 902 yards and 22 touchdowns, adding 32 catches for 508 yards and seven scores.

From an efficiency perspective, Smith averaged 5.83 yards per carry and 14.12 yards per receptions. He only played in two games during the 2020 season, catching three passes for seven yards. While his collegiate sample size redefines small, his high school sample size is massive; he compiled 3,076 yards 60 touchdowns on the ground and 1,621 yards and 19 touchdowns through the air. Given that Smith is projected to have NFL-caliber size, lets dive into his assumed 40-yard Dash time. Using a formula given by  the Up Next Devy Podcast, plugging Smiths 11.39 100-meter sprint time into the equation would give him a 4.76-second 40-yard Dash. While this speed in the NFL would be a death knell, it is far from that as a prospect entering college.

Collegiate Outlook

Emmitt James Smith IV’s path for playing time is currently being blocked by two 2021 juniors. The primary back for Stanford in 2020 was Austin Jones, who will be the name that Smith will have to overcome to gain the lead role for this rushing attack. Jones performed well in 2020, racking up 550 yards on 126 carries and logging 21 receptions for 149 yards, scoring nine total touchdowns. To Smith’s advantage, he will have what is projected to be a far more familiar collegiate season a year removed from the pandemic. Meaning he will have more opportunities to prove to the coaching staff he deserves to be on the field.

Stanford is also losing their starting quarterback and top wide receiver to the NFL Draft. Which should lend itself to relying more on the rushing game to supplement any hiccups a less-seasoned quarterback may encounter. Smith will also have an addition to the running back room with Stanford signing 3-star recruit Brendon Barrow who ran a verified 4.48 40-yard Dash at 175-pounds. Amongst all the smoke and mirrors, what is uncontested is Smith’s ability to be a wrecking ball in the receiving game. This is what I perceive to be his calling card, and his path to collegiate touches and production. Just to help put out any concerns about him not putting in work and trying to slide by being a Hall Of Famers son, here is a training video from January 9th.

Smith IV has a Campus to Canton ADP of 92.73. Thanks to his absent freshman season production, he will be affordable in any format.

Follow Britt Sanders on Twitter @The_Sandman25

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