Bloomington –Freshman Cortez Smith wasn't filing any complaints when the IU staff switched the one-time running back recruit to cornerback on the opening day of fall camp.
In fact, the 5'11", 190-pound Detroit native made the request himself nearly a month before camp opened. He'd been in Bloomington during the summer months working out with his new teammates, splitting time between the positions. His success at cornerback and IU's depth at running back made it an easy call.
"They gave me an option which position I wanted to come in as, and I felt cornerback would be a bigger asset to the team," Smith said after his second day of fall camp. "I could produce more at corner then I would at running back, so I decided to make the move."
It was a move that didn't come as a huge surprise to Palcic. While Smith had rushed for 943 yards and five touchdowns as a senior at Cass Tech H.S., recruiting coach George Ricumstrict told Palcic early on that the secondary might eventually be the best fit for Smith.
"George Ricumstrict said he saw him play basketball, saw him play football, and said ‘I think eventually he'll be a corner,'" Palcic said. "A lot of times on a high school team the best athletes are at quarterback and running back, so you like recruiting those guys knowing they can play another position if they need to."
Smith is doing just that, and he's already doing well enough to insert his name into the mix for the second straight cornerback spot opposite Chris Phillips this fall. Players like Donnell Jones, Richard Council, Chris Adkins and Adrian Burks have more experience, but Smith's natural abilities make him a tempting option as well.
While many of Palcic's young cornerbacks have beefed up in the off-season to prepare themselves for a chance to play this fall, Smith arrived on campus with the physical size to play at the Big Ten level. He couples that size with the tools that Palcic looks for in his corners.
"He's fast, he has excellent footwork, and he already has a lot of the technique I'm looking for," Palcic said. "He's a guy who physically is as talented as I have, he just needs to catch up with the mental part of it and gain some experience.
"We'll see what happens. He could be thrown in the mix with the other guys as a potential starter, he's that talented."
The thought of playing as a true freshman brings a big smile to Smith's face, and he admits that when he goes to bed at night following each day of camp that playing right away is on his mind. But he's also trying to keep himself from focusing on getting on the field right away and instead concentrate on getting better each day.
"That's a great comment from my coach about playing right away, but I'm just here to compete," Smith said. "I'm just trying to stay consistent and let coach do the film work.
"Eventually the best man wins the spot. But it would be awesome to get on the field my first year. I'm trying, we'll just see what happens."
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Easy Choice - Smith Asks For Position Switch
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