JUCO RB making most of his reps at Louisville

Former junior-college running back Jeremy Smith has been a major surprise in the first two weeks of spring football for the University of Louisville. Smith scored a touchdown and looked impressive in a scrimmage on Saturday in the Trager Center.

Jeremy Smith became a hot commodity on the recruiting trail just before junior college players signed in mid-December.

After running for more than 1,700 yards at the Fresno, Calif., City College, Smith saw his phone ring a few more times. One call he answered was from the University of Louisville. He chatted with the coaches and planned a trip to campus.

So, he took a visit to U of L the weekend before he was scheduled to sign and also visited Alabama that weekend. He picked Louisville and head coach Bobby Petrino is sure glad.

The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Smith has looked the part of a major addition for the Cardinals in the first two weeks of spring ball.

"He's got some power," Petrino said Saturday after a scrimmage at the Trager Center. "He's got some good feet. We need to get him to run with his pads over his knees a little bit more so he doesn't take a couple of the hits he got today."

Smith carried around 10 times for about 115 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown run, in the scrimmage. He had a 26-yard run - with a stiff arm of a cornerback - to set up another touchdown and just ran hard the entire time.

Petrino said he wanted to get Smith more carried and was able to do that when sophomore L.J. Scott tweaked his hamstring and sat out.

Smith, Brandon Radcliff and walk on Malin Jones split the carries, while walk on Darius Skinner was also in there a bunch for the offense.

"He was very impressive to watch," Radcliff said. "He got me excited a few times."

Smith brings a different dimension to the U of L offense. Petrino likes a bigger running back and that's what he got from Smith.

"We understand what Brandon can do with his quickness and ability to break tackles," Petrino said. "To see Jeremy in there, hitting the holes, that's what I like because he's pretty patient and has good vision. . . .He is a big, physical guy. I think he'll be really good for us, getting in there and changing pace."

Smith had late offers from U of L, Vanderbilt, Southern Mississippi, Colorado and Notre Dame among others. He opted for the Cardinals.

In high school, Smith attended Hammond, La., Magnet School before heading to Fresno City for one season. As a junior, Smith had one of the best games of the season nationally with 31 carries for 447 yards and seven touchdowns against Pearl River High.

As a senior, Smith was named a first-team all-district defensive end, linebacker, running back and kick returner. He carried 59 times for 418 yards and six TDs last season on offense. But his only offer was from Southeastern Louisiana and he went to JUCO.

Smith finished with 205 carries for 1,735 yards and 17 TDs in 11 games for Fresno City. He didn't start in the backfield until game five of the season. In a November game against the College of the Sequoyias, Smith set a school record with 375 yards and five TDs.

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