Interview: San Antonio Brahmas OC AJ Smith


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Interview: San Antonio Brahmas OC AJ Smith

Our UFL expert Jake Tribbey recently spent some time conducting an email interview with San Antonio Brahmas offensive coordinator — and Fantasy Points fan — AJ Smith. One of the most innovative minds in spring football, Smith went from being the youngest offensive coordinator in Louisiana High School history at age 21, to coordinating the the 2023 Houston Roughnecks offense (of the XFL) to the 3rd-most PPG (24.7) despite injury issues at QB.

Now with the Brahmas — under head coach Wade Phillips — in a newly formed league (the UFL), Smith touches on the merger, position battles, and more.

I wanted to start by talking a bit about the merger. From the outside, it appeared like the Brahmas staff came together later in the process relative to some other teams.

What was that experience like for you? Can you describe some of the advantages of playing in a now-merged league?

AJ Smith: To be honest, I had no idea what was going on the entire time — I just trusted God, and while all that was going on I was just working on the [offensive] installs, playing golf, drinking Trulys, watching sunsets on the beach, and reading Fantasy Points articles during the NFL season.

Would say experience is an advantage. Even though I am one of the youngest coaches, I am also the most experienced in the league in spring pro football, having been involved in a league every year since 2018.

Your quarterback room looks very different from what we saw with the 2023 Houston Roughnecks. Can you describe what led you to sign/draft the trio of QBs on your current roster, and how you see the position battle playing out thus far?

AJ Smith: We have a great QB room. All of them are doing a great job leading the offense on the field. I believe we can win with all three, but right now it is between Chase Garbers and Quinten Dormady to win the starting job.

Then the offensive coordinator for the Houston Roughnecks, AJ Smith donned his favorite fantasy football t-shirt during an ESPN interview in 2023

Cody Latimer was listed as a TE last season but ran over 80% of his routes from the slot. How does Latimer fit into your air raid offense? Do you see him moving all over the field or primarily as a slot weapon?

AJ Smith: Cody fits perfectly. He is a great player and leader, and it is going to be fun watching him compete on game day. He has been a tremendous asset to our team, mentoring younger players on how to be pros and play with confidence.

Latimer and Jontre Kirklin are recognizable names to any spring football fan. But among your other pass catchers, who do you see surprising people the most this season?

AJ Smith: In my last five seasons of spring pro football, this is the best receiving room I have ever had. There could be several who surprise the league because history shows this offense will showcase you at that position if you are that guy, and I think we have more than a few of those. I’ve been shocked at how little the double-forward pass has been used across both spring leagues. Obviously, you pulled off one of the best plays of the 2023 season using the double-forward pass. Do you see room for those plays to become more prevalent in spring football? Is there a reason most teams seem to ignore that novel rule completely?

AJ Smith: I think it gets ignored for the most part because you have to have a receiver that can throw. Not too many coordinators trust pure receivers to throw.

When the Brahmas win the inaugural UFL championship, what do you think you’ll point to as being the biggest reason?

AJ Smith: We came together as a team fast. Coaches, players, everyone all coming together under Coach Wade [Phillips]’s culture. One team. No personal agendas, no egos …. we win, we do it as a complete team, believing in and rooting for each other.

Jake Tribbey is the 2022 FSWA Football Writer of the Year and the leading Spring Football expert in the fantasy industry. He is a lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.