Sometimes, it’s the sidekick that eventually becomes the hero.
It’s no secret that Oklahoma State is deep at the running back position. The tandem of juniors Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith rushed for a combined 1,914 yards and 33 touchdowns last year. Although Randle is at the top of the depth chart, the second half of the dynamic duo is ready to make his mark.
“(Smith) has gotten a lot stronger,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “We will see how that translates over. I think he has gotten a lot better at understanding how to catch the ball as well as his understanding of space.”
Smith is no stranger to essentially playing the role of Robin, nor does he have a problem with it. Even with being the “number two” running back, Smith was still able to average nearly 54 yards a game last year. This season, he said, will be no different.
“Right now, it’s pretty much the same (role) as last fall,” Smith said. “We are planning on doing the same thing we have been doing and that is just doing what we know best.”
Monken is eager to see Smith on the field, especially after the hard work he has put in over the summer. And with the first game looming closer, he wants to see how well Smith is able to react in the supporting or even a possible leading spot.
“He has really worked at it,” Monken said. “He understands where to be so that the quarterback can find him. He understands whether to break out when he is matched or whether to settle in his spots. Those things are really critical.”
The focus pushing Smith forward is not the individual. Just like Dick Grayson was to Bruce Wayne, so is Smith to his team. Sure, like every player, he would love to be the one to break out and make the explosive plays. But that’s not who Smith is.
He wants to help OSU succeed and influence his teammates.
“In the past I was one of those guys who would go out there and just
play, instead of talking,” Smith admitted. “We pretty much just have to group together and listen to each other because there are different points that we all have to hit on just to be better as an offense.”
As for the individual, Monken said he believes if Smith sticks to his style of play and builds off his success from last season, the potential impact could be greater than the Dark Knight was for Gotham City.
“What makes Jeremy what he is is ‘I run downhill, I break tackles, I’m a one cut guy,’” Monken said. “You are what you are. That is what you are, be damn good at that.”
In any case, Smith is ready to get the season started and return to Stillwater’s version of Arkham for ravenous fans: Boone Pickens Stadium.
“I think this year is our year to run the ball some more,” Smith said. “If they call
our name, we’ll be ready.”
And ready he’ll have to be, because there’ll come that day when Commissioner Gordon won’t be signaling for Nightwing. He’ll be looking for Robin.