Smith eager to arrive

Highly regarded Ohio tailback is excited for chance to become a Badger

After making his official visit to the University of Wisconsin football program last weekend, Lance Smith left Madison eager to return.

"I just really want to be there a lot earlier," Smith said. "To get a jump on things and be able to jump in the program and help the program have a lot of success."

Smith, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound tailback from Warren (Ohio) Howland High School, will not actually move to Madison until June, but he is already getting revved up for the time when he will first don a Badger practice jersey and begin competing for a role in Wisconsin's backfield.

Smith initially committed to Wisconsin in August but took an official visit to Minnesota in December, when rumors surfaced that his commitment to the Badgers was softening. Smith, though, said shortly after his Gopher visit that he remained committed to Wisconsin. And Smith said this week he was sold on signing with Wisconsin before he made his official visit to the school. The recent trip to Madison, though, just got him more excited about his decision.

"It made me eager a lot so I could come (in to Wisconsin)," Smith said.

Obviously, Smith enjoyed his official visit.

"I got all (my questions) answered," Smith said. "I enjoyed it. I loved the campus atmosphere. I loved everything about it. I mean, that's the school I want to be at. I want to run the ball there. I want to become the next big thing down there."

Smith said his host was defensive back Shane Carter, who is a native of Troy, Ohio.

"I talked to the professors… I got around to all the players," Smith said. "I got everything answered that I really needed to get answered."

Smith said that though the official visit certainly helped, he did not need to be convinced to firm up his commitment.

"No, not at all," he said. "I know all about the football. I know it's a running back school anyway. I see that. It's in the Big Ten. You on TV mostly every week. It (is not) no more that you can ask for than that."

Smith does not expect to redshirt his freshman season. On the contrary, he hopes to step right in and compete for playing time in what has become a very young backfield with Brian Calhoun's early departure for the NFL. Wisconsin brings back senior-to-be walk-on Dywon Rowan, junior Jamil Walker and three freshmen who redshirted last fall: Jerry Butler, P.J. Hill and Dion Foster. The Badgers could also potentially have Booker Stanley, but he is not expected to return to the team because of serious off-the-field issues stemming from an arrest last month.

Smith was a star at Howland, setting a school record with 4,008 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns.'s No. 44 running back prospect, Smith is considered a three-star prospect.

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