Birthday: December 8, 1980
Strengths: While Onterrio Smith may have been honored to back up Maurice Morris at Oregon last year, he now has the honor of headlining the Ducks offensive attack in 2002. And that’s bad news for the rest of the PAC-10.
Smith is possibly the fastest of the top running back prospects that could enter the 2003 draft. He looks even faster than he is because he swivels on shifty hips. With very good balance and terrific field vision, Smith can cut and burn any defender on the field, scoring from anywhere he wants. Smith is also adept at catching the ball, and his blocking skills are improving. He’s even tossed a touchdown pass and returned some kickoffs.
A better player than Morris, Seattle’s 2nd round pick last April, Smith led the Ducks in rushing yardage, and he led the conference in average yards per carry. Smith is a very competitive person who’s never short on words, but his relationship with Morris was mutually supportive.
After making a name for himself in relief at Arizona (15 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns), Smith hit the prime time in cold and rainy conditions at Washington State. His 285 rushing yards set a school record, eclipsing a mark previously held by Ahmad Rashad (née Bobby Moore), and he scored all three of Oregon’s touchdowns, the most impressive of which was a breakaway 73-yard scamper.
Areas for Concern: Smith needs to prove he can shoulder the offensive load for an entire season. He’s not an overpowering back, so if defenses don’t respect the passing game minus QB Joey Harrington, they will fill the box and not allow Smith much room to maneuver.
Then there’s something of his checkered past. Smith was originally a recruit of Tennessee’s, but he was bounced from the team after testing positive for marijuana. He transferred to Oregon, but trouble still followed him there. A couple weeks before the 2001 season began, Smith was arrested for drunken driving. He was under the age of 21 and was driving with a suspended license.
How Would He Look in Steel Blue? The off-field problems may make Smith a non-factor on Houston’s draft board, akin to which WR Antonio Bryant may have been for the Texans in the 2002 draft. It’s a shame if that’s the case, because Smith has oodles of talent and definite first round potential if he declares.
Though Smith may not have the size to fit Casserly’s draft profile for a running back, Smith’s speed and elusiveness make him something of a poor man’s Marshall Faulk if he keeps making progress with his hands hauling in passes.
(profile written by Keith Weiland)
Onterrio Smith’s 2001 Stats G CAR YDS AVG TD 11 161 1,007 6.3 7 Onterrio Smith Return to The War Room
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