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USC Football 2017: Will Cam Smith become the best linebacker in the country this year?

Cam needs to stay consistent and shine this year to be the best linebacker in the country

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As linebacker Cameron Smith enters his junior year as the USC Trojans defensive leader, the expectations are high but so are his abilities. Can Cam become the best linebacker in the nation this year?

The Granite Bay native is entering this year as one of the top 10 linebackers in the county. He has already been named on the watch list for the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Butkus Award. So what does Cam need to do to finish as the best linebacker in the country, in what could be his last year at USC? Consistency and Shine.

Consistency:

Ever since Cam entered the college football scene he has been one of the most consistent players for the USC Trojans. He has a nose for the ball, he can anticipate plays and players movements and has a natural command of the defense when he is on the field. Also, Cam can tackle. This simple and underappreciated part of the game will take him far this year and at the next level. When Cam wraps an offensive opponent up, there is no letting go and there is little hope that player breaks that tackle. But being good at your job is no longer enough, you have to shine.

Cameron Smith's 3 INTs vs. Utah

The Shine:

Shine can come in various forms for different players. That could be throwing for 5 TDs in one game for a QB, or three interceptions in one game for an ILB. There is no doubt that Cam can ball. There is no doubt he is a leader and he can stay consistent as a good player. But to be the best linebacker in the country, he has to take his talent to the next level.

Cam will be the best linebacker in the county if he can shut the critics down. The critics that say he is good, but not great. The critics that say he is not very athletic and can’t handle what the NFL has in store. Cam needs to be a 3 down player, who is ready to play 5 quarters with the same intensity he has always shown. Cam needs to step out of his comfort zone and have explosive games, like his three interception game he had against Utah his freshman year. That is the shine that will get him over the edge and wow the country. That is the shine that will make him the best linebacker this year, which will translate to an eventual first round pick in the NFL Draft.