|Former QB Brad Smith making plays all over the field for the Jets|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 27 September 2007 11:42|
He's the New York Jets' version of Mr. Everything: a guy who has lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and played on special teams since being drafted last year. That adds up to a lot of extra study time.
``I've been to quite a few meetings, but they really simplify it,'' Smith said. ``Whatever plays I need to learn, they help me with that.''
The former Missouri quarterback played mainly at wide receiver last season as a rookie. He was listed as a quarterback in training camp this summer, but the Jets kept Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens and Marques Tuiasosopo on the roster. So Smith's concentration has turned more to playing other positions.
``As a competitor, you love being out in the game in all situations,'' Smith said. ``We have a lot of great players on offense and whenever I get a chance, I just try to make a play.''
The Jets are hoping to get Smith more opportunities. After having one touch on offense in the first two games, he had three catches for 24 yards, two rushes for 14 yards and returned two kickoffs for 54 yards against Miami last Sunday. Oh, he also had a tackle on special teams.
``Last week was definitely the most I've been involved since I've been here in the offense,'' Smith said. ``I'm just trying to grow and progress from week to week.''
And he's impressing his coaches while he's at it.
``I think he's doing really well,'' coach Eric Mangini said. ``His production last week overall was exactly what we are looking for.''
Not bad for a former quarterback who set 69 school, Big 12 and NCAA single-game, single-season and career records at Missouri.
``I call him `The Legend,' `` said fullback Stacy Tutt, also a former college quarterback at Richmond. ``He has all those records in college and stuff like that, so he's a living legend. He's The Legend: B. Smith.''
As a rookie, Smith attracted as much attention as anyone on the field because of his ability to do so many things. He had nine catches for 61 yards and 18 carries for 103 yards, including a team-high 32-yard run on an end-around at Green Bay. Smith also had a kickoff return and 10 special-teams tackles.
``It all feels good,'' Smith said with a big smile.
``It's unbelievable,'' quarterback Chad Pennington said. ``This guy played quarterback and he's down here making tackles and being a big part of our special teams.''
Before the draft, the scouting report on Smith was that he was a great athlete, but didn't have the stuff to be an NFL quarterback. He told just about anyone who'd listen he would be willing to play any position in the pros, but Smith never imagined it would be like this.
``You focus so much on leading and organizing everybody and getting guys in the right spots as a quarterback, so this kind of thing never really crossed my mind,'' he said.
The Jets took a chance on Smith when they drafted him in the fourth round, 14 picks before they selected running back Leon Washington. The two have developed into New York's most versatile and exciting playmakers.
``The thing I'm most impressed about with Brad is the selflessness that he displays for a guy who could've said, `Hey, I want to stick with quarterback. I want to learn for a while,''' Washington said. ``He came in with an unselfish attitude. And, he likes to have fun.''
While he was used only in certain situations last season, Smith might see a lot more action this year as one of the Jets' main receivers behind Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery.
``It was different seeing him at wide receiver, but he caught on pretty quickly,'' Cotchery said. ``The best thing about him is he has great hands. That's kind of crazy to see, coming from a quarterback, a guy with hands like he has. He's also very natural and he's progressed very fast.''
The player Smith is probably most often compared to is Antwaan Randle El, a former quarterback at Indiana who has carved out a nice NFL career as a wide receiver. Now with the Washington Redskins, Randle El has caught and run the ball, returned punts and kickoffs - and even threw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl for the Pittsburgh Steelers two years ago.
``I was able to talk to him a little bit before last year and hang out with him a little bit,'' Smith said. ``He's a great guy to learn from. He said, `Go make plays and let everything take care of itself. Just go out and try to help out your team however you can.'''