|'Humble' Smith debuts with Ravens rookies|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 04 May 2007 09:46|
``I'm at the bottom of the totem pole right now,'' he said. ``I have that understanding.''
His Heisman Trophy, the 54 touchdown passes he threw at Ohio State and even the No. 10 he wore as the nation's finest college football player were only a memory Friday at the team's rookie camp.
Smith, the last player drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft, informally launched his NFL career on a beautiful spring morning wearing a purple jersey with the No. 11 on it. Most of his passes were on target; some were not.
``We've got to try to have him be able to do a few more things with the ball,'' Ravens offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel said. ``He's got a fastball. Now we have to work on some other pitches.''
Smith led the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles and a berth in the national championship game last season. His accomplishments are well documented, but won't mean a thing in the camp that runs through Saturday.
``I think what stands out the most to everybody in the United States is he's the Heisman Trophy winner,'' Neuheisel said. ``I think internally he just wants to learn. He's not coming in here as though he's proven something. He's coming in here wanting to prove something.''
Smith concurred. Asked to describe his mind set, he replied, ``A humble one.''
But Smith wore a big smile after his first practice. He loved playing college football, but was delighted to be taking his career to the next level.
``I think it went pretty good,'' he said. ``I'm just excited about being here. A new offense is always going to bring up some challenges, and that's what they did today. They challenged us.''
For the 6-foot, 225-pound Smith, the immediate challenge is learning a thick playbook and proving that he's not too small to play quarterback in the NFL. He's also eager to avoid joining an expansive list of Heisman Trophy winners at his position who never made it big - guys such as Gino Toretta, Eric Crouch, Jason White and Danny Wuerffel.
Ravens coach Brian Billick was an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings when the team drafted Toretta, who won the Heisman in 1996 with Florida. Billick watched Toretta struggle, and still hasn't a clue why some Heisman Trophy winners never make it at quarterback in the NFL.
``I'll leave it to someone smarter than I am to figure out why that has happened that way,'' he said. ``But you've got to be very careful not to prejudge it, because that just means what has been, it doesn't mean that is what will be.''
Smith, the 174th player drafted overall, is determined to separate himself from that mold. His immediate goal is to be a third-stringer behind Steve McNair and Kyle Boller; the concept of being cut is not even a consideration.
``That's probably the last thing I'm thinking about. Not making the team is something that never crossed my mind,'' he said.
Smith wore No. 11 because his college number belongs to Drew Olson, who's on the roster and playing in NFL Europa.
``A number is a number. It will be represented well,'' Smith said. ``But if I get a chance to get into that 10, I'm going to do that.''
Although winning the Heisman Trophy has made him the focus of attention in camp, Smith won't let his past influence his future.
``It doesn't put any pressure on me and it won't put any pressure on me,'' he said. ``That happened for a reason. We had a good college season, but it's not about that anymore. It's about the Baltimore Ravens and what I can do to help this and this organization. The Heisman Trophy has nothing to do with it.''