While Anthony Davis has been the focal point of defensive game plans the first three weeks of the season, resulting in wide open lanes for UW's freshmen receivers to roam free, defenses haven't placed quite as much emphasis on shutting down true freshman tailback Dwayne Smith.
But that might change soon. Smith has rushed for identical numbers in his first two collegiate games, finishing with 38 yards and a touchdown against UNLV and West Virginia.
After missing the first game of the year as a disciplinary action (he was minutes late to the team's pregame meal, along with Booker Stanley, who is now being redshirted due to a tailbone injury), Smith has stormed onto the scene. He has impressed the entire coaching staff with his ability to pick things up quickly and execute.
"Everything is going great right now," Smith said. "It's different watching it on film, and then being on the field and actually going out and doing it. Being out there, I've been getting more comfortable with the blocking schemes, just picking up the different lanes that are open for certain running plays. It's great feeling to be able to contribute and help the team win."
The Badger staff knew Smith was a special recruit, as he almost single-handedly brought Chicago's Hales-Franciscan football program to life, transforming it from a perennial doormat to a playoff team. He was a three-time captain, setting school records for rushing yards (3,296) and touchdowns (34). And perhaps most impressively, Smith was the valedictorian of his senior class.
Now he has come to Wisconsin and become the No. 2 tailback.
"I actually didn't expect this," Smith said. "I knew I wanted to come in and play this year, so I really had to be focused and do whatever I can to learn the plays. That was the main thing, learning the plays. Once I did that, I felt I might get in once in a while. But now that I'm getting reps, it's been great. It's been working out for me."
Smith said he's benefited from defenses not paying quite as much attention to him as they have Davis.
"I really haven't established myself yet as a great running back like AD. I plan on doing that though," Smith said. "I want to be great, so I'm going to do what I have to do. But when I come into a game, they might not put so many people in the box as they do with AD. It gives me a better chance to give me more running lanes."
Smith had 17 friends and family in attendance last Saturday, and they plan on making that a tradition for UW home games. It's one of the primary reasons he chose Wisconsin. But Smith will have some familiar faces not just in the stands, but across the sidelines the next few weeks. Thanks to Smith's father, Michael, for sending in the following tidbits:
"Dwayne will be playing against one of his Park District teammates this weekend, Andre Morris. They played together on the Washington Park Redskins and won a Mum Bowl Championship. He also played against Garrett Wolff in the Chicago Catholic League. On October 5, he will also play against his Redskin and Hales Franciscan teammate, Richard Gardner, who is a starting DB at Penn State."
Smith makes immediate impact
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