Stoops says Smith is a natural at receiver

Sophomore Reggie Smith (pictured) and OU head coach Bob Stoops talk about the Edmond, Okla. native working at receiver. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

Sophomore Reggie Smith is one of the very best players on the team, and certainly one of the most versatile. Smith started last year at strong safety and finished the season regarded as one of the best freshman in the country.

However, in the spring Smith had a tremendous boost in confidence and his ability soared as coach Bobby Jack Wright moved him to corner where he flourished. Smith was also annointed as the Sooners' next great punt returner by OU head coach [bBob Stoopsp, as well as earning a starting spot as a kick-off return man at OU.

Last year, Stoops hinted that we would also see Smith at wide receiver at some point, but he didn't know when the Edmond native mentally would be able to handle that. Well, that time is now as Smith is now working everyday at wide receiver as well as at CB, PR and KR.

After practice on Friday, I had a chance during the media session to talk to coach Stoops and Reggie about the opportunity to go both ways.

JH: You are giving Reggie Smith as chance to workout at receiver. How is that going?

BS: "He is real natural at it. People want to compare him to Andre Woolfolk, but to me he is much more natural at it than Andre was. He is a legitimate receiver with the way he runs and catches, and what he can do with it afterward. I think the important thing will be finding the balance of what works for him. He is playing exceptionally well at corner, but he can help us there on offense as well. We just have to find the balance for him."

JH: Because you are so deep at cornerback, does that give you even more incentive to try something like this?

BS: "It does. I feel real good about how Lendy (Holmes) and Marcus (Walker) have come along and how they are playing. So it does give you a little more flexibility that way."

JH: Reggie, when did the coaching staff come to you to talk about giving wide receiver a try?

RS: "We talked about it on Monday. He (Stoops) said for me to audition and just see how it felt at wide receiver. He said that he was going to give me an audition to see how I do. So I tried to take it for what it was and went out and did my best."

JH: You are so good running and catching the ball that you knew you were going to pass that audition aren't you?

RS: "I don't know about that. I think I am a pretty gifted athlete and I am blessed every day. God has blessed me with talent."

JH: Weren't you more of a running back than a a receiver in high school at Edmond Sante Fe?

RS: "I was a running back, but there were many times that I would split out when we had our other running backs in. I got a little taste of both worlds, so it is kind of the same."

JH: You said that Bob approached you Monday, but didn't he talk to you last year about possibly doing something like this in the future?

RS: "Yeah, me mentioned it to me but I never thought it would actually happen. It is happening now so I have to take advantage of it and do what I can with it."

JH: How is it going thus far?

RS: "I think it is going well. I caught a few balls today so I am starting to get these routes down. At first, it was always where do I line up and am I supposed to do this or this in this situation. Coach Sumlin has been helping me along and he hasn't been getting to mad at me. He is trying to make me a receiver in the little playbook that I do have."

JH: You have always said that you wouldn't mind trying this. Is that because the fundamentals of playing corner and wide receiver are similar?

RS: "It helps on both ends, you know. If I am going on offense I kind of know what the defense is going to be in. On certain situations, I will be looking at the corners and safeties and know what coverage they are in. On defense, I will know a little more what the wide receivers are thinking and I will be putting that knowledge on them. It will help me on both sides."

JH: How much of a factor do you feel like you can be at wide receiver? Can this become a situation that every game you are going to be a major factor on both sides of the ball?

RS: "I think time will tell. I can't really tell where I will fit in. I am just hoping that I can get a few plays here or there, make a few things happen and get a little excitement. I just hope to help out the offense if they get down or something, but I am hoping to do that with my play on defense. Defense is going to be my main spot."

JH: Will you still be the kick returner and the punt returner?

RS: "As far I know I will be doing both of them. Plus, playing on offense and defense."

JH: Will you also be selling popcorn at halftime?

RS: "I will have to think about that. I am not a very good salesman. I can try and I can get better at it."

JH: There have been some great players who have gone both ways. Have you thought about the possible impact you could have on your team and in college football?

RS: "I think I can have a major impact on this team. When they throw me the ball I have to try to catch it and make plays. I know they can't give me too many tries, so I have to make the best of every play they give me. I just want to help out and do what I can and make big plays happen."

JH: How many routes are you learning at receiver?

RS: "I am not learning everything, I am just learning different splits and things that I need at wide receiver. It is only a few plays that I have to know. I have down basically what I am supposed to do. I know when to break them off and when to keep them wide and stuff like that. It is the little stuff that will make the difference."

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