Texas A&M star wide receiver Ainias Smith will miss the remainder of the 2022 season with what Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher referred to as a lower body injury on Monday. Smith suffered the season-ending injury during the No. 17 Aggies' dramatic 23-21 win over No. 20 Arkansas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.
Smith was blocking downfield against the Razorbacks but was rolled up on before being helped off the field. Smith's father, Maurice Smith, told The Eagle that Smith suffered a fracture in his right leg on the play. Maurice was seen comforting a visibly distraught Ainias on the sidelines after the injury.
"He's a unique player, a unique competitor and I love him to death," Fisher told reporters. "It's just an unfortunate situation."
Smith has been a dynamic weapon for Texas A&M over the past four seasons, playing both running back and wide receiver at different points. The Fort Bend (Texas) Dulles alumnus caught 127 passes for 1,612 yards, rushed for 384 yards and accumulated 21 total touchdowns from scrimmage in his career.
He is responsible for more than a quarter of Texas A&M's total offense through four games with 302 all-purpose yards. More than half the yardage has come after the catch as Smith has attempted to make up for lackluster quarterback play from quarterbacks Haynes King and Max Johnson. With Smith out, Yulkeith Brown (57) and Chase Lane (10) are the only players with more than 10 snaps at slot receiver.
Smith is eligible to use a redshirt year and return for another season in 2023; however, he may also explore his options in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The loss of Smith is a critical blow for a Texas A&M offense that could not afford to take many more losses. The Aggies rank last in the SEC in total offense, passing offense and scoring offense, trailing even Vanderbilt and Auburn in those metrics. Texas A&M has scored a combined 54 points in its last three games; however, 13 came on either special teams or defense while another came after Miami muffed a punt at its own 28-yard line.
The Aggies' offensive strategy through four games looks closer to Iowa than Alabama. The defense has kept Texas A&M in games, holding opponents to fewer than 12 points per game. Road trips to Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina over the next three weeks could expose holes, however.
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Smith, a fourth-year player, led the Aggies with 15 catches. Running back Devon Achane ranks third on the team with nine catches. Out of the remaining 33 catches, 28 are by players who had zero career catches coming into the year. The lack of development and production at wide receiver by returners -- including top-200 recruits Moose Muhammad III and Jalen Preston -- has been one of the biggest failures of the Fisher era. Despite impressive recruiting stats, the Aggies have not had a single receiver drafted since Kevin Sumlin was fired. In Smith's 2019 class alone, Texas A&M reeled in No. 70 Dylan Wright and No. 203 Kam Brown at receiver but both are now contributors at other Power Five schools -- Minnesota and UCLA, respectively.
In Stewart and Chris Marshall, Texas A&M has two of the top three receiver recruits in the nation in the Class of 2022. But despite the influx of talent, 2022 features the worst passing offense of the Fisher era. That has to change quickly heading into the meat of SEC play.