Tampa Bay added some speed to the backfield with the selection of Utah State running back Michael Smith in the seventh round. Smith, who was timed at 4.32 in the 40-yard dash, averaged 7.3 yards per carry during his Aggies career, and will be a complementary back to LeGarrette Blount and Doug Martin.
Tampa Bay added another running back in the NFL Draft by taking Utah State’s Michael Smith in the seventh round with the 212nd overall pick. The Bucs used one of their two first-round picks to add Boise State running back Doug Martin to Tampa Bay’s backfield. Martin will likely split carries with LeGarrette Blount, the Bucs’ leading rusher over the last two seasons, and Smith is expected to compete with Mossis Madu for a roster spot as a change-of-pace back and a special teams contributor.
“It is a great opportunity,” Smith said. “Whole new coaching staff and stuff. I know they drafted a running back though – Martin from Boise State – and I feel like it is a great opportunity for me to play as a running back [and] on special teams and be a major impact in the National Football League on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and create mismatches on offenses.
“Just watch the film. My college piece says I am very patient. I am not selfish, and when the opportunity came forward, I just took and made the most of it. Through special teams, through whatever they wanted to use me at, I just made myself more valuable for the team and for myself to help the team win.”
Smith rushed for 870 yards and nine touchdowns on 114 carries during his senior season as a complement to Robert Turbin, who rushed for 1,517 yards and 19 scores in 2011. Smith, who averaged 7.6 yards per carry in 2011, also caught 16 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns last year.
The 5-foot-8, 206-pound Smith ended his career on a high note by rushing for 121 yards on 18 carries against New Mexico State and a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl where he was the Co-MVP. Those contests were the only two 100-yard games in Smith’s career at Utah State.
“Oh yes, at the end those two 100-yard games, and especially at the bowl game on national television with everybody watching, I was a MVP or co-MVP of that bowl game,” Smith said. “That was a great boost for me and a great boost for my confidence. It made scouts open to know more about me and tell them I am for real and want to play in the National Football League. I am glad the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have given me the opportunity.”
Prior to his senior season, Smith had rushed for 443 yards and six touchdowns on 70 carries, in addition to 22 catches for 243 yards and two scores. He used his blazing speed to average 7.3 yards per carry during his Utah State career.
Smith had seven career runs of 35 yards or more, including five of 50 yards or more, in addition to touchdown catches of 47, 53 and 54 yards in his Aggies career.
Smith said the fastest 40-yard dash time was 4.26, but he was clocked as low as 4.32 in front of NFL scouts at his pro day.
“Yes I am fast, but I feel my mental toughness [is my strength],” Smith said. “I was not the starter when I was at Utah State. I had Robert Turner right in front of me. He was a great running back, so I just seized the opportunity when they gave it to me. I believe my mental toughness and not getting down on myself because everything doesn’t go your way. You’ve got to keep fighting each and every day.”
Tampa Bay now has five running backs on its 2012 roster, including Blount, Martin, Smith, Madu and Robert Hughes.
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