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Incoming freshmans weight loss could be Alabamas gain – AL.com

May 23rd, 2020

Weighing 352 pounds, Timothy Smith played his junior season at Floridas Sebastian River High School in three-snap increments.

The hefty defensive tackle could not manage to keep himself on the field, and despite having received scholarship offers from some of the nations top programs, he had to change his body.

We came in during the summer," his coach Tyrone Perry recalled Tuesday, And said, Hey, man, if youre gonna take this next level and be the guy people are saying you can be, you need to lose 30 or 40 pounds.'

The message was received. By the start of Smiths senior season last fall, he was down to 330 pounds. About another 15 pounds were shed by seasons end.

As Smiths weight dropped, his stock rose. He rocketed up 247 Sports rankings from the No. 294 prospect nationally last November to No. 82 in December and No. 28 in January. The outlet declared Smith had some of the best senior film in the country" and awarded him a fifth star.

Already having committed verbally to Alabama last July over Clemson and Florida, Smith continued to be pursued heavily by the Gators but stuck with the Tide on early signing day in December.

Now Smith, the highest-ranked of Alabamas incoming freshmen yet to enroll, is preparing to make the move to Tuscaloosa this summer.

In announcing Smiths signed letter of intent, the school wrote the 6-foot-4 defender could bolster the Tides rush defense immediately, and the opportunity exists for Smith to emerge quickly for an Alabama defensive line that has routinely produced NFL talent during Nick Sabans tenure as coach.

The past five NFL drafts have included at least one Tide defensive lineman selected in the first two rounds: AShawn Robinson (2016 second round), Jarran Reed (2016 second round), Jonathan Allen (2017 first round), Dalvin Tomlinson (2017 second round), DaRon Payne (2018 first round), Quinnen Williams (2019 first round) and Raekwon Davis (2020 second round).

Smith must still carve his path to the pros, but his football journey has already brought him far.

Too big to play football in middle school, Smith instead became involved in baseball. He played outfield and first base, and according to Perry, smashed home runs out of the Los Angeles Dodgers former spring training park in nearby Vero Beach.

He was not too big, however, to play the triangle in his middle schools band. And it was at those musical rehearsals and on those baseball diamonds where an assistant football coach kept track of Smith and eventually scored a commitment of his own.

Finally one day Tim saw [the coach] over at the middle school, ran up to him and told him his mom said yes [to playing football], Perry said.

Smith did not know how to wear a mouthpiece or where to line up. But by his senior season, he was calling out the offenses strength of formation for his teammates from the nose tackle spot.

For a D-lineman to do that, and a kid that didnt know anything about football, that was a true transformation, Perry said.

Football was not the only sport Smith adopted in high school. He began to throw discus and quickly became one of the states best. He finished third in the district championships in 2017 behind a then-Sebastian River teammate and now-Alabama teammate, linebacker Jarez Parks.

When Smith emerged as an elite football prospect and his weight became a barrier to success at the next level, a teenagers right of passage -- getting wisdom teeth removed -- kickstarted the process of shedding pounds.

The surgery meant Smith could not eat solid food for several days, and even then, his stomach was stubborn to cooperate. His mother Ethel, who works at a retirement home, brought home foods such as mashed potatoes and ground ham. Smith kept the portions small.

After that wisdom teeth pulled, I just kind of continued my good habits and it paid off, he said.

Instead of being limited to three-snap spurts as a senior, Smith was able to play about 80 percent of defensive snaps per game, Perry estimated. He also saw about 40 snaps per contest as an offensive lineman, starting games at left tackle and right guard.

He just became more explosive, more disruptive, Perry explained. For a high school kid to say, Im gonna lose this myself, and no coachs input, no trainers, no nutritionist, that tells you a lot about him. He wanted to be one of the most dominant players to come through our high school and really wanted to make Alabama notice thats what type of guy he was. He sets a goal, he wants to reach it.

As Smiths senior season ended with him ranked among the nations best defensive line prospects, a new challenge emerged this spring that threatened to disrupt his physical shape: the coronavirus pandemic.

With his high school shut down, Smith began doing cardio exercises in a nearby park before Perry began joining him to run agility drills.

Instead of holding graduation in mid-May, the school now is planning a ceremony with limited attendance on July 11.

Smith, meanwhile, is working on enrolling in online classes at Alabama until he is told to report to campus.

Recruited by hard-driving Tide outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri, Smith is aware some of his bad habits from high school will not fly at the next level.

In high school, some kids could get away with being late to everything," he said. "Once you get older, you realize [it doesnt] work like that in the real world. I feel like thats what I really need to get the hang of. Because its like, Ill wake up early, but I still manage to be late. I really need to work on that.

I feel like it really shouldnt be a struggle [to play for Nick Saban] if I do what Im supposed to do. I feel like its all on the players."

Perry, though, termed Smith an ultimate team player as his star prepares for the start of college.

Fundraisers, thing like that, hes the first to sign up [and] last one to leave," he explained. Hes always been humble. Its never been about him. Hes all about his teammates. He didnt sign until late, or commit, because he wanted to keep the coaches coming through, looking at our other guys. Hes just been a phenomenal teammate.

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Incoming freshmans weight loss could be Alabamas gain - AL.com

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