Allen Smith was recruited by the University of Wyoming to play nickel.
That opportunity may come sooner than later for the true freshman from Culver City, California.
UW defensive coordinator Jake Dickert said Smith is competing for playing time in fall camp with sophomore Keyon Blankenbaker, who was moved from cornerback to nickel in the spring, but missed most of spring with a hamstring injury.
“Allen Smith is a guy who is stepping up to the challenge as a freshman,” Dickert said. “He is overloaded right now, but he is in the mix.”
Smith was a cornerback, wide receiver and kick returner for Culver City High, but said his role over his high school career was as a nickel, just like UW uses in its 4-3 scheme. The nickel is a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive back, but often is utilized in covering speedy wide receivers in the slot.
“This is kind of new here, but also not kind of new,” Smith said. “Playing cornerback kind of relates to it. I can come down and play in the box and be physical, and also cover one-on-one.
“There are more zones to figure out here. In high school, we played mostly basic coverages. You also have to know your run fits.”
Smith isn’t the most imposing player physically right now, listed at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds. However, 28 of his 44 tackles as a high school senior were solo stops. He also intercepted two passes, had six pass break-ups and forced two fumbles.
Smith said he is a good fit to play nickel for the Cowboys.
“I like to be physical, come down hill and hit when the run comes my way,” he said. “I also like playing man-to-man, and also can play zone.
“So far, doing what I’ve done in fall camp is a big accomplishment for me. I’m young, and playing with the older dudes has given me more confidence and is making me better.”