Tyree Smallwood will enroll in the Spring of 2012 as a freshman, looking to make an immediate impact with the Orange.
" I just want to be a playmaker," Smallwood said. ":I really want to get into the kick and punt return game too."
A willingness to play on special teams is a must for any freshman, but Smallwood had some size concerns coming out of high school. During this season at Milford, he has helped to combat the issue by adding nearly 15 pounds of muscle without losing any speed.
"I currently weight 178 (pounds), and I am faster than I was in high school," he added.
The sleek and shifty Smallwood had some gaudy high school numbers, and he often found the end zone on big-play runs. His edge presence may serve as a solid change-of-pace to a starting back once he gets on the field at SU, though his talents may be valuable as a wide receiver as well. Smallwood maintains he wants to play running back, but said he has worked on his already-solid catching ability considerably since leaving high school.
Becoming an all-around back
Smallwood's time at Milford has admittedly not gone as planned, considering he has just 11 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown to go along with three catches for 9 yards thus far in the season (played in three games). Still, he has utilized the time to work on other aspects of the game to prepare him for Syracuse's pro-style attack.
"Blocking," he said was the most improved part of his game along with his physical presence as a result of participating in Oklahoma drills. "Now we can cut (as opposed to high school), so it makes the blocking easier."
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone emphasizes blocking immediately when running backs enroll at the school.
"Everyone sees the talent of a young runner, but what a lot of people don't see is the talent of a young protector in the passing situations," Marrone said Wednesday night after practice when addressing running back depth. "Like I always tell the running backs from Day 1 when you walk through the door, ‘you could be the greatest running back in the world but you have to realize you are going to have to learn how to protect the quarterback and learn the protections to get on the field on a consistent basis'."
Smallwood is up for that challenge, and he has used his time wisely since finishing high school, but he admits there's still plenty of work to be done.
"I want to get a lot stronger and learn different defenses and stay in the weight room without losing speed," he said.
"I just can't wait until I get there, man. I'm ready to make plays and be a big help to Syracuse football."