The NFL Draft is fast approaching and once again Stiles Points will be putting the spotlight on various players and NFL teams leading up to the Draft...the first feature is on running back Kevin Smith from Central Florida...last season, as a junior, Smith carried the ball 450 times for 2,567 yards and 29 touchdowns....Smith is listed as 6'1", 211 lbs....
Kyle Hightower of the Orlando Sentinel was kind enough to respond with some thoughts about Smith...I want to thank Kyle for taking the time...
Q1. Kevin Smith is rated as one of the top 12 running backs in this year's NFL Draft. What type of running back is he? What other running back in the NFL reminds you of Kevin Smith?
A. Kevin definitely falls into that "gliding style" running back category. He won't wow you with how he hits the hole with his speed, but he's very smart in how he follows his blocks/waits for them to develop. Then once he hits the open field, he kind of glides away. That said, having seen all of his 80-plus yard runs his junior year at UCF, I never recall him getting caught from behind. If I had to pick an NFL back to compare him to, it would probably be current De'Angelo Williams and past O.J. Simpson.
Q2. What type of person is Kevin Smith off the field?
A. Off the field Kevin is that guy that everybody wants to be around. Always joking, always interacting and the center of attention without trying to be. I always loved watching him driving around with teammates in his neon purple Chevy Caprice Classic, gold toothed in the sun. He was always having a blast, no matter what he was doing. And extremely personable. Probably a product of being underestimated by people coming out of high school, but he never turned down an interview request or failed to answer his cell when I needed to get him, even when the spotlight started increasing on him last year.
Q3. I watched Smith in this year's bowl game and I remember the announcers saying that Smith was going to come back for his senior year. What happened that made Smith change his mind?
A. We've talked several times about it and he assures me that there wasn't some big thing to it. Seems that once the spotlight of the season was gone and he really had a chance to sit quietly and think about it, he reassesed what he was passing on. Helping out his mom and brother was a factor, but I think in the end he just decided it was time. I know it was hard because he truly loves UCF and had connected with the city. He could have easily waited, but the guy is fearless and isn't worried about the deep draft pool or anything. He wears his heart on the outside of his chest and speaks and makes decisions from it. So I'm inclined to take him at his word.
Q4. Smith had a heavy workload last year with 450 carries. Do you see that as a positive or negative as he heads into the NFL?
A. I think it's actuallly a positive because he has already shown himself to be durable. I think it would be a bigger issue if he'd stayed and did it again as a senior. He won't get 450 in the NFL anytime soon, so in a way he saved some wear and tear already in my opinion.
Q5. Who are some of the future NFL prospects that we should pay attention to on the 2008 UCF team?
A. It has to start with senior-to-be and CB Joe Burnett. He had a breakout freshmen year with lots of INTs and a few punt returns on special teams. He had some injuries that slowed him down as a sophomore, but he broke back out as junior and led C-USA and ranked high nationally in INTs and got back on track as a punt returner as well. Also an entire core of sophomore-to-be receivers led by A.J. Guyton, Kamar Aiken and Brian Watters.
Once again I want to thank Kyle for his time...