Which backup linebacker should probably be getting more publicity heading into the summer?
-- Chad Smith probably deserves some strong consideration for this category.
The fact that he was listed as a co-starter at MIKE linebacker with Tre Lamar on the post-spring depth chart underscored that case. Because not many people on the outside envisioned him being on even footing with Lamar heading into August camp.
Fan optimism about incoming talent becomes disposable when that talent isn't heard from right away. Such was the case after Smith redshirted and then was buried on the depth chart entering the 2016 season.
Smith played just 20 defensive snaps last year, so his inactivity combined with the presence of Lamar and Shaq Smith made it natural to look past him this past spring when Brent Venables set about replacing Ben Boulware at the WILL spot.
But a bit of a light seemed to come on for Chad Smith, and it was evident in conversations with him. Experiencing success on special teams, and helping shore up kickoff coverage that was abysmal in 2015, seemed to bring more confidence that carried into his linebacker duties.