The Lone Star 50: No. 28 Ainias Smith is Texas A&M's version of Deebo Samuel

Original photo courtesy of Texas A&M Football

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The college football season in Texas starts a week earlier than normal with a Week 0 matchup between North Texas and UTEP. To celebrate us making it through another off-season, we’re counting down the 50 most important players in Texas every day until Aug. 27. The list isn’t necessarily about which players are the best, though talent plays a major factor in most important.

No. 28: Ainias Smith, Texas A&M senior wide receiver 

The History

A three-star prospect out of Fort Bend Dulles, Smith was a Swiss-army knife as a prep prospect. Many figured he’d wind up on the defensive side playing cornerback because of his quick-twitch ability. 247Sports listed Smith as a cornerback prospect in its database. He was his district’s co-MVP following his senior season in 2018 when Smith recorded a pair of passing touchdowns, 10 rushing touchdowns, 10 receiving touchdowns, a kickoff return for a touchdown, and a defensive score in the same season. 

Smith immediately worked his way into the receiving rotation in 2019, playing 12 games and starting three times. He caught 22 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns while establishing himself as a threat in the return game. The Aggies used Smith even more in 2020. He ran the ball 49 times for 293 yards and four scores that year, while leading the team with 564 receiving yards off 43 receptions and six touchdowns. 

Smith played more of a traditional slot receiver role in 2021 thanks to the Texas A&M backfield tandem of Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane. Now a team captain, Smith led the Aggies with 47 receptions and six receiving touchdowns and finished second on the team with 509 receiving yards. He also returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown against South Carolina. 

The Skillset 

Smith is a do-everything athlete who is a chore to wrangle in the open field. His varied skillset makes him an invaluable member of the Texas A&M offense. He was playing the Deebo Samuel role before it was cool to use a player at wide receiver and running back. He’s likely to slide back into his 2020 role with the departure of Spiller. The 5-10, 190-pound Smith can’t be an every-down running back, but he can be a third-down back who is used creatively in the run game while still impacting the game as a slot receiver. He’s also a threat to score on special teams. 

The Impact

Spiller is arguably the most important player on Texas A&M’s offense. He’ll be a security blanket in the short passing game for whomever wins the quarterback job for the Aggies. He’ll also be part of a two-headed rushing attack with Achane. Add in his duties as a return man on special teams and there’s not much Smith doesn’t do for Texas A&M. He’s also a leader off the field who is likely to be a team captain for the second season in a row.   



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