KB Posted April 24, 2008 Group: Member Topic Count: 0 Content Count: 3,595 Reputation: 181 Days Won: 2 Joined: 09/08/2004 Share Posted April 24, 2008 Apirl 23 - USA TodayYou won't find Kevin Smith's name in anybody's mock draft for the first round. After rushing for 2,567 yards last season Ã¢â‚¬â€ just 61 yards shy of Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record Ã¢â‚¬â€ and leading the nation with 29 touchdowns, the Central Florida running back's name might not even get called on the first day of the draft.It's a projection which makes Smith a bit queasy. He allows that the running back crop, led by Arkansas' Darren McFadden and bolstered by a cache of juniors like himself, is deep.Yet according to NFLDraftScout.com, Smith ranks as just the 10th-best running back prospect."To me, it should be about what you've done on the field," Smith, the only rusher in NCAA history besides Sanders to crack 2,500 yards in a season, said last week from Fort Lauderdale. "I don't understand."This process is seemingly more wrenching because Smith opted out of his senior season after originally declaring he would return. He never petitioned the NFL's draft advisory board for the evaluation that many juniors use while weighing their future. Now, if draft experts are correct, he might be a third- or fourth-round pick. "One thing with this NFL draft," he says, "if you're not a top-10 pick, you've got to put your pride and ego aside."Smith (6-1, 217) timed at 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, which is nothing special for a running back. McFadden, for example, clocked at 4.33. Although Smith's time improved at his pro day (4.47), he'd rather consider evidence beyond a stopwatch to gauge his functional speed. Like game-day speed.He mentions North Carolina State's speedy DaJuan Morgan, the second-ranked free safety in what is considered a lean year for that position."I clearly ran right by him," Smith says of last season's opener. "I don't understand."Another question involves competition. Smith likes to note that for three years he dominated Conference USA, but that brand of Division I-A football is not to be confused with the SEC."Everybody puts their jersey on the same way," Smith says. "Ask some of the guys at Texas. I murdered them. N.C. State, I murdered them, too."Smith, who led UCF to a second conference crown in three years, rushed for 149 yards in a 35-32 loss to Texas. He stung the Wolfpack for 217 yards in a 25-23 victory."A lot of people say it's tougher to figure (small-school) guys out. It's really not," says San Francisco 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan. "If a guy produces, a guy produces. He's a good football player. There is a reason why he ran for so many yards."Tim Salem, UCF's offensive coordinator, sees the toughness. Smith logged an NCAA-record 450 carries in 2007. But vision, Salem offers, is Smith's best attribute.Salem recalls an 80-yard touchdown run against Southern Methodist. As a defender closed in from behind along the sideline, Smith lost him with a quick inside cut."The next day I asked him, 'How did you know when to cut?' " Salem said." 'Coach, I saw his shadow.' " Smith didn't even play running back as a senior at Miami Southridge High after a new coach played him at safety. He chose UCF because it was the only school that would let him play running back.Now he'll have to prove worthy again."They're sleeping on me," he says. "But I know what I'll be in the NFL. I'm going to be something. I know how to play this game."Smith expects something else, too. "There will be some top-round busts in this draft, too," he says. "No doubt."The party is back on. A few weeks ago, considering his modest stock and the prospect of not being selected on the first day of the draft, Smith told his family and friends to drop plans to celebrate his entrance into the NFL.But he's had a change of heart."My mom made me realize that there is no reason to mope about it," he says. "I'll still get drafted. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ Getting drafted, regardless of where and what slot, is still special. Now I'm excited about all of this." Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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