Jeremy Smith Looks To Widen Impact For OSU

There's no special reason for the list. It's just a constant in Jeremy Smith's locker. Through the heart of conference play and in early spring, it's a set of written goals on a sheet of paper that help guide him. And as the senior Oklahoma State running back gears up for the 2013 season, his self-motivation to become a leader within the program sits atop the list.

But to perform well on the field this season, Smith understands he'll need to become more of an overall threat with the ball in his hands. That means continuing to improve his rushing talents, while rounding out his game as a pass catcher out of the backfield – a key aspect of the Cowboys' spread attack.

"That's just always something to work on," Smith said. "It really helps your game, too. Just to make you more of a dual-threat running back. It's always important, every year."

When he arrived in Stillwater in 2010, Mike Gundy called Smith's catching ability "average." That's representative of Smith's reception totals in his freshman campaign: 1 catch for -1 yards. Meanwhile, NFL-Draft-bound Joseph Randle caught 37 passes for 427 yards and a touchdown.

Over the next two seasons, Randle accumulated 71 catches, 490 yards and 2 touchdowns. Over that same span, Smith recorded 14 catches for 113 yards and no touchdowns.

The biggest reason for that disparity was skill set. Randle was built to play a hybrid position. Smith was more of a downhill runner.

But that doesn't mean that Smith doesn't have the tools to make a slight transition this season. The Cowboys love putting their speedsters in open space, like Josh Stewart in the slot and Justin Gilbert returning kicks. Smith has the chance to add his name to that list.

"If (Smith) can't catch, they're not going to respect him," Gundy said. "He's worked hard at it and he's gotten much better."

Gundy said he's seen plenty of growth from Smith in that area and expects him to thrive in more of a leadership position within the running corps. But that doesn't mean he's going to just be handed the starting job. With returning backs Desmond Roland and Caleb Muncreif making strides and freshmen Corion Webster and Rennie Childs entering the mix, Smith understands he'll have to prove himself all over again.

"(Smith's) been good for us for a number of years," Gundy said. "He and Joe shared it for the most part. He's ready to take it over. And now we'll have to develop a couple of young guys behind him. We have a couple. And we have freshman coming in. We're going to play them both."

Smith said one of his main goals on that list this season is keeping his starting job. After a season hindered by injury, his motivation is at an all-time high.

"It's my time to shine now," Smith said.


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