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July 23, 2012 @ 9:38 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Smith: "I Expect To Do Big Things And Believe In Myself"

Written by Dory
LeBlanc
Dory LeBlanc

Dory
LeBlanc

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Despite being a seventh-round draft choice, running back Michael Smith is confident he can impress the coaches enough to make the team. Smith knows he has to make every opportunity count.
Bucs seventh-round draft pick Michael Smith is used to flying under the radar. At 5-9, 205-pounds, he isn't as big as some other NFL running backs, but Smith is a fighter. And sometimes, you can never count a fighter down.

Smith will not only be fighting first-round selection Doug Martin and third-year back LeGarrette Blount, but Mossis Madu and free agent signee Robert Hughes for a roster spot. Being drafted usually gives most rookies somewhat of an edge, but Smith doesn’t see it that way. After the first day of rookie camp Thursday, Smith talked about the attitude he is bringing into camp.

"Well, it's the first day. We came out fast, humidity got to us a little bit, but we kept pushing through it…so you want to be a pro, if you're not going to try you're not going to be a pro.” Smith said. “All the rookies came out here hard, fighting through it. Keep pushing trying to help each other, building off each other. It was a good practice, the first day."

Smith is fast – running a 4.35, 40-yard dash – at his pro day, but feels he has much more to bring to a team than just being a return specialist. Last season for the Aggies, Smith rushed for 870 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 16 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

"I do everything. I'm on special teams, offense, I'm on everything.” Smith said. “I just try to be more valuable to the team; being a bigger impact as a rookie coming in, not just limiting myself to special teams. On offense too helping the other guy, helping all the running backs out, so just being there as a presence.”

Smith’s trainer, Joe Defranco of Defranco’s Gym in Wyckoff, NJ, talked to PewterReport.com about Smith’s speed.

“Mike is one of the fastest, most explosive athletes I've ever coached and I've been doing this for 15 years,” Defranco said. “I clocked Mike consistently at low 4.3's in the 40-yard dash. He also broke the 10-yard sprint record in my gym. He is a legit ‘4.3 guy’, his speed is not artificial. What I mean by that is he's blazing fast both on the field and on the track on any given day. He can run a 4.3 on his worst day. I clocked him at 4.25 during his last day of training with me before he left for his pro day.”

Despite his size, Smith can help the other running backs out. In pass protection, Smith laid the groundwork for big runs by Robert Turbin and quarterback Chuckie Keeton last season. Against the Ohio Bobcats, Smith drove an offensive tackle backwards four yards allowing Keeton to keep the ball on the option and gain five yards instead of taking a sack. Smith ended the Idaho Potato Bowl with 157 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

Defranco also talked about Smith’s size and strength.

“I actually get offended when people call him undersized,” Defranco said. “To me, Mike is optimal size for a running back. Try tackling a 5-9, 205-pound ball of muscle that bench presses 435 pounds, squats over 600 pounds, and runs a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. That is not undersized to me, that is blunt force trauma for the poor defender trying to bring him down.”

Turbin, who rushed for 1, 517 yards and 19 TDs last season, got most of the press and publicity leading up to the draft and was rated a top-10 prospect at the position by several draft sites. Turbin went on to be drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round, the 11th running back selected in April. The Buccaneers took Smith 106 picks later.

PewterReport.com asked Smith how he dealt with his teammate getting so much attention, and if he plays with a chip on his shoulder because of it. 

“I expect to do big things and I believe in myself, just like Coach [Schiano] said they wouldn’t have drafted me for no reason,” Smith said. “Playing with him [Turbin] was a great thing. It was a one-two tandem. Anything is possible, for two running backs to get drafted from the same school, and not even for a big-time school like Oklahoma or Texas. I always tell everybody ‘keep your head up, keep working if you’re a first string or second string, anything’s possible’ because some people didn’t get drafted, even though they’re first string from a big school. I just have to keep working hard, put effort out there. You can’t buy effort, you can only do it. “

That effort is something that the Bucs scouts and staff noticed when they watched the film on Smith. At times, Smith would drag three defenders with him as he kept plowing ahead for extra yardage.

“Before Mike even entered my gym, I liked him,” Defranco said. “When we spoke on the phone, everything was ‘yes sir and no sir’. He was extremely respectful and humble. When he finally arrived at the gym and started training, he didn't change at all. He gave 110 percent effort during every single drill, every single day. He did exactly what we asked of him and never questioned anything. This is rare for an athlete as gifted as he is.”

Being raised in Tucson, AZ and playing college football in Utah, Smith is getting used to the Tampa humidity.

“Hydration is the key,” Smith said with a smile.

Smith quickly changed the tone back to working hard, something that he mentioned several times Thursday afternoon after the rookies had completed their first day on the field.

“Well, we get to come out early and get acclimated to it, ” Smith said. “I just push through it. You have to fight through everything. Anything in your way, you have to fight through it. I’m trying to make the 53-man roster; 46 on active and I’m trying to make it. I just have to keep fighting. I don’t care how hot it is, how humid it is, I don’t care if my leg hurts, or anything. I have to keep fighting.”

The Bucs once again will be one of the youngest teams in the NFL, but have added veterans like Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson through free agency. The most tenured player on the roster is Ronde Barber, who is entering his 16th year in the league, all of which he has played in Tampa Bay.

“I just watch him on the field how he carries himself,” Smith said. “He carries himself very well off and on the field; how he presents himself to other people. Just watching him, I don’t even have to talk to him, just watch how he acts, how he carries himself is a big impact on me.”

One of the impacts the future Hall of Fame cornerback made with the rookie was his work ethic.

“The way he studies, you see him in the front of the classroom with his notebook open taking notes still.” Smith said “I’m just going to keep watching him.”

Being a draft pick won’t automatically land Smith that roster spot he wants so badly; but his speed, effort, attitude, and work ethic will give him a fighting chance.


 



Last modified on Monday, 23 July 2012 13:31
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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    I agree that there's no way you trade Blount. He's a rare find who shines with the ball in his hands. IMO at this point, if you take longevity of the positions out of the equation, Blount is more valuable to this team than Freeman. He's a stud in the mold of Jerome Bettis only more talented. Love to hear these stories of young players and the potential they bring of adding their mark on the NFL. Smith seems to have all the tools to be productive. Lets see what happens when the pads come on! Go Bucs! So excited!!
  • avatar


    Why are we all talking about trading Blount, in two half seasons he has 1800 yds.With Hicks playing guard Blount should have a 1500 yd. season if we don't get blown early.If you trade this guy it is a serious mistake!
  • avatar


    THIS is just one of the reasons I'm picking the Bucs to win 9 or 10 games in Schiano's first year as HC. Also, you don't trade the only RB who has proven he can produce at this level. The last time I was this excited about our team.........they won the SB. That's not likely this season, but they will at least be in the mix in December IMO.
  • avatar


    I'm not trading one of our best players because he was late LAST YEAR for crying out loud. Heck, if my office fired anyone who was late I'd be the only one left. Let's see how he conducts himself now before being so quick to jettison him. He seems to be doing everything right so far. I loved the choice of Michael Smith and actually hoped to pick him in the 6th round. He sure has the right attitude.
  • avatar


    Scubog, so agree.
  • avatar


    I think the sky's the limit for Smith. He should be on the 53 man roster for sure. Madu should be kept on the the Practice Squad just in case Smith should get hurt. Don't trade Blount! We need the one two punch of both Blount and Martin to wear out the opposing defenses, then put Smith in the backfield to run all over them in the fourth quarter between long passes to Jackson and Co. When they bring up the free safety to box in Smith before he can get started, then send Jackson and the freshest and fastest receiver we have deep and whoever the remaining safety does not cover, hit our receiver a step ahead of their DB for an easy TD. The minute they pull both safeties deep, pull either of our two probowl guards to cut down the contain around the corner and watch Smith run for a TD. Should the other side try to stop him, he can either juke them, outrun them, or with his strength--carry them right into the end zone. Smith should be an exciting addition to the Bucs for many years to come.
  • avatar

    I'm pulling for this guy this year. I hope we use him like the Saints used Sproles last year :)
  • avatar


    The Bucs were one of the slowest teams last year, no home run hitters. This kid will make the team with that speed.
  • avatar


    I HOPE THAT THIS KID MAKES THIS TEAM WITH HIS SPEED HAS SOMEONE THINKS COULD BE USED AS A RETURN KICKS USING BOTH ROOKIES RUNNING BACK IN THE SAME BACKFIELD. I HOPE THEY WILL LOOK AT THE DUO WITH MARTIN AND SMITH IN THE SAME BACKFIELD I THINK IF THESE TWO PLAYERS ARE USED CORRECTLY THIS WOULD MAKE THE DEFENSES THINK TWICE BEFORE THEY GO AFTER ONE OF THE RB IF FREEMAN CALLS ONE WAY AND THE BUCS WENT THE OPPOSITE WAY CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT KIND OF SPEED TAMPA COULD PRODUCE. I THINK TAMPA COULD HAVE SPEED AT RB AND HANDS AT WR. GO BUCS, AGAIN WHY DON'T SWOMETIMES THESE TWO RB CAN BE USED IN 1 AND 2 PLAY WITH THE OTHER BIG POWERFUL BACK USED ON 3RD DOWN PLAYS.
  • avatar

    Could anyone else see our runnng back depth being Martin, Madu, and Smith, if we can get a thrid round or better for Blount. Recent articles about his lack of work effort has kind of soured me on him.
  • avatar


    Emitt Smith was 5' 9" 205 more or less coming out of Florida and we all know what he did. I think this was a great pick in the 7th round no matter what happens here. He definitely has value and I believe he will be our kick returner by mid season if he stays healthy. I don't believe he will be going away anytime soon.
  • avatar

    I am dying to see this kid run.
  • avatar


    i've been staring at our depth chart wondering how do we fit all these guys in?! I'm hoping Hughes becomes our next Ernest Graham and that we also keep Cody Johnson; that way we have cody and Hughes for depth, and Blount, Martin, and Mike Smith. With Smith and Martin we have two kick returners for Hbs as well! I like Madu, but I'd like to have Mike's speed and special teams ability.
  • avatar


    I'm predicting he will be a pleasant surprise. I can't WAIT for camp and pre-season!
  • avatar

    I believe Walter Payton played a 5'10" and 200 lbs. That should end any size debate before it starts and his rushing/receiving stats are strong. Unless he and his backfield mate played behind five first round O linemen, I'd say this guy has a chance to be pretty darn good. And how about that speed ... ? Go Bucs!
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