Smith Looks to His Future

Daniel Smith didn't finish up his senior year like he had hoped. For the second straight year an injury ended his track season and a shot at a state title. The wide receiver from Clay High School (South Bend, Ind.) is going to learn from the past, not dwell on it as he prepares for his future at Notre Dame.

Daniel Smith (6-foot-4, 205-pounds) only lives a few miles from Notre Dame so one would figure that he's taken every opportunity to go to campus and get catch some footballs from Dayne Crist on his free time. Although Smith thought about doing so, he wasn't able to follow through.

"I wasn't allowed to do anything (at Notre Dame), because of NCAA rules," Smith explained. "But I just graduated, so I'm going talk to the coaches and to try and get there as soon as possible. I believe the upperclassman will report June 6. Hopefully, if NCAA rules allow it, I'll get up there as soon as possible, but I couldn't do it until I graduated."

Dan would have been able to learn a lot from attending spring practices. The NCAA didn't prohibit him from doing that, but his track practices did.

"You can pick up on what the tempo of practice will be and what I need to improve on by looking at what they do," Smith said. "But I had track practices when they practiced, so I really didn't get up there that much. I saw a few, and the spring game of course, but that's about it."

It won't be long before Smith will be huffing and puffing through his gold helmet. The pace of Brian Kelly's practices was one of things that caught Smith's attention.

"I think it affects you both mentally and physically," he said. "I know it's a different game, but I remember in high school when teams would run a no-huddle, it just messes up the defenses flow, because teams aren't used to facing a team like that. I think that (Brian Kelly's) offense is so effective, because defenses aren't prepared to face an offense like that. We'll be in better shape and used to that, because we'll be doing it all year long and they'll just be trying to adjust to it that week."

This year Smith won the state in-door long jump with a state record jump of 23-feet, 9-inches. It was the eighth longest jump in the nation at the time, and it was his first jump in nearly two years after returning from a knee injury he suffered during his junior basketball campaign. Heading into his final outdoor track season, Dan was primed to make a run at the state long jump title.

"I'm mainly a long-jumper. I was ranked No. 1 in the state in long jump this year, but I tweaked my hamstring a little bit running the 100 M," he explained. "Because of my hamstring injury I couldn't finish my outdoor season. It was a little disappointing for me, because one of my dreams was to win state for long jump. I was ranked No. 1 in the state last year too, but I had to miss track because I had to have knee surgery. It was kind of frustrating because this is the second year in a row that something has happened.

"So I just concentrated on getting ready for Notre Dame. It has slowed me down a little bit, but I'm getting back to normal. I realize that this next door that's going to open and it is a much larger door for me. It was unfortunate, but I had to be smart. I think it'll help me deal with adversity in the future. After the knee surgery experience, I know if I ever have to go through it again that I'll be able to fight through it, because I've already gone through it."


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