Texas A&M Football: This Aggie WR has quietly had a career year

Ainias Smith, Texas A&M football Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Ainias Smith, Texas A&M football Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas A&M football team has a handful of players who have had their best football seasons in 2021. That list includes Isaiah Spiller, Devon Achane, Antonio Johnson, DeMarvin Leal, and a handful of others.

But one player may have taken the biggest step forward and virtually nobody is talking about it. That player is Ainias Smith, the Aggies’ runningback-turned-wide receiver.

Entering the year, Smith wasn’t necessarily thought of as this team’s top receiver. Instead, Smith was thought of as one of the most dangerous return men in the entire country and a serviceable receiver. Between his elusiveness and open-field speed, he earned the honor of being considered a preseason All-SEC return specialist.

Texas A&M football WR Ainias Smith has been producing through the air and on special teams

The best part here is that Ainias Smith has lived up to the hype in both facets of the game. As a punt returner, he’s averaging new career-highs in yards per return, total yards, and touchdowns. Heck, he even has a new career-high in tackles, though I’m not sure that’s worth bragging about as an offensive player.

A lot of this is based on the fact that he took a punt return 95 yards to the house against South Carolina a couple of weeks ago.

To compare him to Devon Achane, the other Aggie who has a special teams touchdown, Smith had to be more elusive on his, while Achane simply outran opposing defenders.

But somehow, Smith’s special teams accomplishments feel like they fall short of what he’s done for this team as a receiver in 2021 — a year where the Aggies haven’t had their top wide receiver in Caleb Chapman.

On the year, Smith has 347 receiving yards, which leads wide receivers. He falls six yards short of tight end Jalen Wydermyer, who leads the team. Smith’s six touchdowns, however, are two more than Wydermyer’s four, making Smith the team’s top target in the endzone.

And in a weird year where Zach Calzada hasn’t had much time in the pocket, Smith has been huge for short-yardage plays. The five-foot-nine receiver is an easy target for this team to take advantage of when Calzada’s offensive line does not give him adequate time in the pocket.

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If the Texas A&M football team wants to continue their success and make a run at the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff, they need more strong performances from Ainias Smith.