The 2006 Heisman Memorial Trophy Award recipient, Troy
Smith, capped an unbelievable career as quarterback in one of the nation's
premier football programs, leading the Ohio State Buckeyes all the way to the
Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Championship Game as a senior.
In this past year, Smith would also collect the Walter Camp Award (Player of
the Year) and the Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback). Although he didn't
perform as well in the championship game, where the Buckeyes were trounced by
the eventual champion Florida Gators by a score of 41-14, he's a very talented
player with a lot of upside coming into the National Football League.
Smith arrived in Columbus being offered the last scholarship for Ohio State's
recruiting class of 2002 by Jim Tressel. This came after watching game tape
of Smith and thanks in no small part to the insistence of his high school head
coach Ted Ginn Sr. at Glenville High School, where he played alongside Ted
Ginn Jr., who would also later become his teammate at the collegiate level.
As a matter of fact, this scholarship was offered to him as an athlete on the
team and not as a quarterback.
After redshirting his true freshman season in 2002, he played sparingly as
a running back and special teams player in 2003. Smith finally earned some playing
time as quarterback in 2004 as a backup for Justin Zwick, taking over the starting
job in Week 7 and leading the Buckeyes to a 4-1 finish down the stretch.
As a junior in 2005, and the team's full-time starter, Smith led Ohio State
to a 10-2 season capped off by a win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. He
would start 2006 as one of the top candidates to take the Heisman as quarterback
of the Nation's No. 1 preseason ranked team. He would not disappoint as he lead
the Buckeyes to impressive victories over No. 2 Texas, and No. 2 Michigan on
route to a 12-0 regular season record, a berth in the BCS Championship Game.
Smith's outstanding individual stat line included 2,507 passing yards with
30 touchdown passes and just six interceptions for the year. Smith would unfortunately
finish the championship game with a miserable performance that included just
four completed passes of 14 attempts for 35 yards, one lost fumble, one interception
and five sacks as his team was clearly outplayed by the Gators.
Smith finished his collegiate career with 420 completions of 670 passing attempts
(a 62.7 completion percentage) for 5,720 passing yards with 54 passing touchdowns
and just 13 interceptions and 1297 rushing yards with 14 rushing touchdowns
in just under two and a half years as a starter. He is also the seventh Buckeye
to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.
Probably the first quality that stands out in Smith as a quarterback is his
superior athleticism, which enables him to avoid pressure, prolong the play
and eventually either give his receiver's enough time to find an open space,
or he can take of running with the ball.
Smith also possesses above-average arm strength and can deliver the throw while
on the run. He is also very good at making the right reads down the field and
will seldom turn the ball over due to a misread in coverage (as attested by
his exceptionally low number of interceptions over the past two years).
Smith's transition to a pro-style offense shouldn't be too complicated as he
has run a variety of pro-style sets in college. As for the intangibles, Smith
is a warrior, a proven winner and a natural leader in the huddle. He makes his
teammates believe in him, and that can take a player a long way in the NFL.
He is no stranger to pressure situations as he has played in several big games.
There's still some room for improvement since he hasn't tapped his full potential
as a passer yet.
Standing at just at 6-foot-0, Smith's lack of the ideal stature is by far the
biggest negative for him heading into the draft. There will always be questions
as to whether he will be able to see over the linemen and find the passing lanes
or if his passes will be batted down at the line consistently.
Another concern is Smith's below-average accuracy, especially while standing
in the pocket, which sometimes has regularly forced his receivers to adjust
their routes to the ball. He also displays less-than-ideal mechanics at times,
which also contributes to his lack of accuracy.
Off-field issues since high school and into college are also a concern for
scouts. Smith, in high school, knocked out a player during a 2000 basketball
game. The incident forced Smith to leave the parochial school of St. Edward
High School for Glenville High School. Smith was charged with disorderly conduct,
pleaded no contest and paid a $100 fine in 2003 for an incident with then-Ohio
State teammate Santonio Holmes. The incident
left one female student unconscious and another with a broken wrist.
To close Smith's sophomore season, Tressel suspended him for the 2004 MasterCard
Alamo Bowl and the first game of the 2005 season for accepting $500 in booster
money. Smith repaid the money and moved on with his career.
Since, Smith has been on good behavior.
At some point in the second half of the 2006 season, some speculated that Smith
might go as high as a top-10 pick, but that seems to be more a product of the
Heisman-hype than to a realistic perspective.
Currently, there seems to be a unanimous consent that the first two quarterbacks
that will be selected in the upcoming draft will be Louisiana State's JaMarcus
Russell (an underclassman) and Notre Dame's Brady
Quinn, both of whom appear to be top-five picks at this point. After that,
there seems to be a serious drop-off in talent to the second-tier quarterback
group that includes Smith, Michigan's Drew Stanton
and Houston's Kevin Kolb, who will be vying
to be the third quarterback selected. At this point it seems they will not be
able to creep into the first round unless they're able to blow away scouts at
the combine and their respective pro days, something that has happened before.
A realistic scenario would have Smith selected in the second or third round
of the draft to a team that would have enough patience to develop him over the
course of a couple of seasons in order to make him a pro-caliber passer. Prospective
teams under this scenario would include franchises that are currently set with
a veteran starter at the position and might be looking for a young passer to
eventually take the reigns down the road or develop a reliable backup. This
scenario would consequently discard team's that are in dire need of a franchise
passer now, and teams that are already developing a young passer under a veteran
Smith on his part has been very vocal about his desire to play for his hometown
Cleveland Browns, who seem less than set at the quarterback
position with current stable of Charlie Frye,
Derek Anderson and Ken
Dorsey. Therefore, it should be considered as a possibility as well, along
with all the marketing benefits of drafting a celebrated hometown hero for a
franchise in need of a spark, but Smith's immediate contributions should be
nil, at best.