Julian Smith Finally Arrives in Iowa City

The long awaited arrival of Julian Smith finally occurred Tuesday afternoon as the six-foot-three, 220-pound linebacker made the drive from Canton, Michigan with his father, Keith. Smith, who spent the last year at Milford Academy, will enroll in classes next week, as well, as participate in spring drills. Smith will be counted on to contribute in some form during the 2006 season. Scout.com's Josh Clark caught up with Smith as he made his arrival to Iowa City, and offers this report...

The Iowa Hawkeyes lost two of the school's best linebackers ever in Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge following the 2005 season.

Iowa had kept that in mind last year when Julian Smith committed to Iowa and immediately enrolled at Milford Academy. That resulted in Smith's arrival in Iowa City on Tuesday afternoon where he will look to help fill the vacancies left by both Greenway and Hodge.

As a prep senior at Canton, Smith did not receive much attention beyond the MAC Conference and Iowa.

"My high school coach didn't do a very good of helping me out and informing schools about me," said Smith in an interview done on Wednesday afternoon in Iowa City. "Iowa first became aware of me when one of their players, who was playing with the Detroit Lions, noticed me when he attended one of our games. I began hearing from Iowa during my junior season."

It was not until his senior season that Iowa took their interest to another level. Hawkeye assistant Phil Parker made his way to Canton where he viewed film of Julian, and according to Smith, stated right away that he wanted Julian at Iowa.

There was only one problem; Smith did not have enough required credits to sign with a division one school on Signing Day.

Thus, Iowa presented the option that Smith make a mid-year transfer to Milford last January.

"They wanted me to go to Milford where I could earn the necessary credits. I took the ACT right before I got to Milford, and when I got the results back, I scored a 24 on it. Then the next step was taking care of all my core classes, which I did, and I got done early enough that I was able to go home during Thanksgiving break," Smith stated.

Smith took part in Milford's combine last June, timing a 4.5 in the forty at 220-pounds, but even at that time, Iowa was still the only school aware of his abilities.

During Milford's 2005 season, Smith began the first three games at outside linebacker, where he is projected to play at Iowa. After their starting tailback suffered an injury, Smith made the move to the offensive side of the ball where he displayed even further athleticism and ability at the tailback position.

It was not his first go around at the position, however.

"I actually played free safety and running back in high school. I didn't even play linebacker. The reason Iowa liked me so much was because of my speed and athleticism, but also because they were able to see my field awareness and how I reacted to the ball in playing free safety," Smith said.

After the season, Milford head coach Bill Chaplick, a good friend to the Iowa program, hosted yet another annual combine in November. Except this time, it was actually a scrimmage rather than performing any testing.

Iowa had encouraged Smith not to take part in that scrimmage, and Smith honored Iowa's wishes. That still did not stop schools from seeing Smith in person, and taking the time to view his film.

After the scrimmage is when Smith began to hear from many other schools, including receiving verbal offers from the likes of Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, and North Carolina. Maryland, Wisconsin and many others; they became very aware of Smith's abilities.

The problem that arose for Iowa was that it was unsure if they would be able to enroll Smith in classes for the spring semester due to an academic program the University has in place for all prep school transfers.

"Coach (John L.) Smith from Michigan State told me if I couldn't get in at Iowa in January that I'd come there with no problem," Smith said.

"My close friend, Devin Smith, who is from Canton, too, is going to Michigan State from Coffeyville Junior College. I really thought about taking a visit to Michigan State, but once Iowa told me I'd be able to enroll in the spring semester, I knew that is where I wanted to go."

Smith had made an unofficial visit to Iowa City along with his father, Keith, this past summer, but made his first official visit this past October.

"I visited the weekend Iowa played Michigan, and it was a great experience to see the atmosphere and the way the fans reacted. I had been to Michigan State many times, and I just knew that Iowa is a better place," Smith stated.

Before transferring to Milford, Smith weighed only 200 pounds. In his first semester there, he gained 20 pounds. He is hoping to gain at least 10 pounds in his time spent in Iowa City this spring.

Smith says he will start out playing the "LEO" position at linebacker, a spot that was filled this past year by Edmond Miles.

"Iowa told me I'll have a shot to start as a freshman if I prove myself. I'm just coming in this spring to learn the system, get better as a player, and do what it takes to prove myself," Smith concluded.

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