The first catch of Shi Smith’s NFL career drew praise from a Carolina Panthers legend Sunday.
Playing in the Panthers’ first 2021 preseason game on the road against the Indianapolis Colts, the former Gamecocks receiver made a splash late in the second quarter to help set up a touchdown drive.
Streaking down the right sideline, Smith hauled in a 26-yard strike from quarterback P.J. Walker, staying inbounds and holding onto the football despite making contact with two Colts defenders.
The eye-popping grab caught the attention of Panthers wide receiver great Steve Smith Sr., the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving yards (12,197), total touchdowns (75) and all-purpose yards (16,614).
“Great catch,” said Smith, who was part of Sunday’s broadcast team. “This is a young man who, if he keeps his focus, he will be a dynamic football player. Great job of using his hands … knows the hit is coming, protects himself — just like us Smiths do.”
A sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Smith is competing for a role in a Panther receiving room that also includes D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall, a first-round pick out of LSU who also made a highlight-reel catch on Sunday.
Smith served as USC’s No. 1 receiver last season, leading the team with 633 receiving yards in nine games, lining up both in the slot and outside. He posted 2,204 receiving yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 43 career games at USC.