He was a standout safety as a junior and verbally committed to Cincinnati. But during his senior year, he was moved first to quarterback and then running back. He flourished as a playmaker and suddenly decided he might like to play offense, not defense, in college.
When Smith heard that from Tyler's coach, he got involved immediately and liked what he saw even though Tyler had been booted off the team his sophomore season.
"Indianapolis schools are really big. They have good programs and most guys just play one way. Dakotah just played safety his junior year and that's where he was evaluated as a college prospect. Then when they put the ball in his hands as a senior, he just flourished as a running back," Smith said. "He's a big, strong, fast kid. You could tell he had been in the weight room and that he had legitimate speed." As soon as Smith evaluated Tyler, he consulted with running backs coach Larry Brinson. He also liked Tyler. Not long after that, UK made its scholarship offer.
"We are tickled to death to get him. Coach Brinson helped a lot and visited him a couple of times. Dakotah really liked his personality as well as the way he coaches," Smith said. "Dakotah is really a self-motivated kid, something we really liked. He pushes himself all the time. He is focused and wants to be a big-time college running back. That is what he thinks about when he gets up in the morning and when he goes to bed at night.
"Physically, he is capable of playing as a freshman. It's hard to project if that will happen, but athletically and talent-wise, he has the ability to be a big-time player. You just feel fortunate when you can find a player like that when you weren't recruiting him all along."