Richard Smith ‘living a dream'

CAMP TONTOZONA - When Richard Smith was in 8th grade and watching the Sun Devils on TV, he was determined to one day play for ASU and help lead them to a Rose Bowl Championship. Now that his vision has become an actuality, Smith can't be happier with his decision to don the maroon and gold.

"ASU has definitely lived up to my expectations," Smith declared. "It's awesome here! It's so neat here; it feels like I'm living a dream."

This is a statement that Smith made following ASU's grueling strength and conditioning summer program, which ultimately was a challenge that the wide receiver feels proud to have surmounted.

"This summer was hard. I thought high school was tough and this was on a totally different level," Smith remarked. "I liked it though, it made me push myself. It showed me how much mental strength I have, and how I am able to conquer things I couldn't think I could do, [and] it gave me a lot of confidence"

Smith was able to draw on the progress he made over the summer when he began fall camp, and with his new confidence he is quickly climbing the depth chart.

"I have to keep working," Smith said humbly. "It's not like I am going to slack off now. I still have to keep working because I have upperclassmen that have the same potential as me trying to pass me. I am just going to take the field and run hard every day.

"I am alright right now. The positive thing is I am making progress and I am nowhere near the top of my potential. I just have to keep working on fundamentals and watching film."

As it is with most freshmen, Smith is still learning the playbook, but credits a couple of veterans on the team for helping him make quick progress in learning the plays.

"I have a pretty good knowledge of the offense," Smith explained. "With an offense as complex as this, I still have some things to work on. I don't have it down pat, but I have all of the basics down. Jamal [Miles] and JJ [Holliday] really helped me learn that quickly."

Armed with that offensive scheme knowledge, Smith is just happy to be in a system which will give him an opportunity showcase his talents as a dynamic player.

"As a two-man outside offense, I get a lot of touches," Smith remarked. "I feel like it's a good position for me to be in, and I will have plenty of chances to make plays. I just want to do the best that I know that I can do and help the team in whatever aspect they need it in. I want to go out there and have fun and work hard during every play that I am in the game."

One of the main motivation tools for Smith is the fact that many people discount him as a wide receiver because he is only five feet nine inches.

"I have been underestimated my whole life," Smith confessed. "Most people believe receivers have to be big and tall. I have always been viewed as too small to be a receiver. I like being the underdog though. When I do make a big impact in the game, people have to take notice and I enjoy seeing them so surprised."

As in the case with everything Head Coach Todd Graham touches, Camp Tontozona has so far been extremely demanding. Yet, Smith already can see the positives manifesting themselves.

"Camp T is real cool," Smith claimed. "It's a little different because it's in the forest. I like it though because it's away from the city and there are no distractions. We are up here bonding as a team and I like it. I am positive all the hard work we are putting in up here will benefit us.

"When we were in Tempe during camp we would bond, but not as much, because people would leave the stadium and do their own thing. Up here there is no cell service, no Wi-Fi. So basically, all we have is each other, so we are talking and growing closer together as a team."

Speaking of camaraderie, Smith arrived at ASU in the same class with three of his close teammates (Josiah Blandin, Salamo Fiso, and Matthew Rowe) from Polytechnic High School in Long Beach Calif., and credits them with helping him adjust to college during Fall Camp.

"It was real nice to have them on the team," Smith admitted. "When I came to Tempe, I only knew a couple people besides them. It was real nice to have them here and to be able to talk to them about home, because we share a lot of similar interests."

The wide receiver hopes he can be a trailblazer and open the eyes of some of his younger high school teammates, and show them that they can start a legacy at ASU.

"Hopefully we can't get a lot of good guys from Poly," Smith said. "There are a ton of good guys there [and] hopefully I can inspire them to come to ASU."

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