James Smith is used to being slighted. He's had to deal with questions about his size and ability since he began playing with the pigskin. One might look at the 5'8 frame of the converted running back and scoff at the thought of his potential to be a Big 12 safety. But take a look at the man, and you can see why the coaches rave about his explosiveness. The red-shirt freshman packs a solid 194 pounds of lean, cut muscle on his 5'8 frame. And Smith's Hulk-like stature is only growing.
"I've put on about 12 pounds since I first came in. I have to keep getting that weight up, because playing safety, I don't have the height advantage. So I have to get the advantage some other way," Smith said.
So how much is Smith lifting these days?
"I don't really know all that yet," Smith said with a smile. "I've been testing out good. I'm just going to leave it at that."
If only the rest of us were that humble.
One thing Smith can't keep secret
is his phenomenal speed. He ran a 10.3 100 meters as a high-schooler at Council
Bluffs Thomas Jefferson. That remains tied for the third best all time in the
"I can see it a little bit. They had to work to get where they are at. So I'm going to have to get their work ethic so maybe one day I can be compared to those guys in all areas," Smith said.
Smith is one of many new faces Cyclone fans have to get used to this fall. He, along with seven other new starters on defense, is the biggest question mark facing the team. Smith understands the concerns, but wants to put the anxiety to rest.
"We shouldn't come out here at practice fearing how the defense is doing. As long as we are making sure we get the calls right, we should be alright. The only thing is the lack of experience, but that shouldn't matter. It's really our turn to step up," Smith said.
One place Smith can't wait to make his presence felt is in the stifling of the other team's running game.
"Run support is my strength. Most of my game centers on that. I'm excited to hit somebody," Smith said.
All Smith wants is a chance.
"I'm just going to have to prove myself. I haven't been on the field yet. I just want to prove myself to the people," Smith said.
"I can't wait to get it done."