Junior Colleges

Gulf Coast has big plans for former LSU cornerback Saivion Smith

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College cornerback Saivion Smith makes a catch during practice on August 7.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College cornerback Saivion Smith makes a catch during practice on August 7. amccoy@sunherald.com

There’s an undeniable swagger about Saivion Smith.

With the bottom of his athletic shorts tucked in like running shorts, the former LSU Tigers cornerback bounced around the playing surface at A.L. May Memorial Stadium last Monday like he owned it.

Smith joked with his teammates and was often the first to run through drills. The new Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College defensive back exuded a confidence that was extremely welcomed by the Bulldog staff.

“We needed some experience there with graduating some of the guys we did,” Gulf Coast coach Chad Huff said following the team’s first fall practice. “Savion coming in gives us some experience and a good skillset for a corner. I’m excited about that.”

After starring in high school, earning four- and five-star ratings by the various recruiting services, Smith enrolled at LSU early. He ended up getting into 10 games as a freshman, recording four tackles with two passes defended and two more pass breakups.

In late June, however, Smith stunned many LSU faithful when he announced his decision to transfer. The Advocate reported Smith was expected to challenge for significant playing time in 2017 before opting instead to transfer to junior college.

“My parents and I have decided it’s in the best interest for my growth as a student-athlete and young adult that I transfer from LSU,” Smith tweeted.

Following last Monday’s practice, Smith expanded on his goals while in Perkinston.

“Definitely (improve) in the classroom. That’s No. 1,” he said. “On the field, I just want to continue to learn from Coach (Stevon) Moore. He’s an ex-NFL player. It’s always good having an NFL guy teaching you, especially knowing that’s the level I want to be at.

“That’s the biggest thing.”

Smith is excited about learning from Moore, but also pointed to his sturdy positional foundation, which he credits the coaches at LSU and IMG Academy.

“I feel like I have the technique but I can keep learning,” he said. “I learned a lot of technique at LSU, which is big, but as far as the defense, I ran a similar one in high school at IMG. I had a lot of picks that year. I feel like I’m going to be all right.”

With his pedigree, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Smith may be a guy who Gulf Coast can “leave on an island.” In other words, they can let him worry about his receiver and move the safety elsewhere instead of deploying the other defensive back over the top.

Smith describes himself as a “gamer, playmaker, baller.”

“I’m more of a cover guy, but I tackle when I have to,” he said. “You (have to) respect me. You’re not just going to run my way every time. You’re definitely going to respect me.”

Asked about what’s ahead for Smith this semester, specifically in terms of recruiting and where he may end up, Smith began to answer before catching himself.

“First of all, I want to win here. I want to put something up there,” Smith said, pointing to Gulf Coast’s national champions banner above the visitor’s bleachers, which highlights 1948, 1971, 1984 and 2007. “It’s been 10 years so I think this is time.”

Gulf Coast opens its season Aug. 31 at home against Itawamba.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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