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February 23, 2008

Smith believes he is ready for bigger stage

MORE: Rivals.com coverage from the NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS UCF running back Kevin Smith proved Saturday he can talk almost as good a game as he plays.

Smith devoted most of his media session at the NFL Scouting Combine to addressing the issue that he may be at a disadvantage because he didn't play in one of the so-called "Big Six" conferences.

"If I recall, I led the nation in rushing and led the nation in scoring," Smith said. "The way I approach the Combine is I don't come here like a small fish in a big pond. I don't think anybody else sees me that way either. (Sunday's) the big day. I plan to shock the world."

KEVIN SMITH FILE

Name: Kevin Smith
Position: Running Back
Height: 6 feet 1
Weight: 217
College: UCF
High school: Miami Southridge
Agent: Drew Rosenhaus
Fact: Smith led the nation with 2,567 rushing yards -- the second-highest single-season total in Division I-A history -- and 180 points last season. He rushed for 320 yards against UAB and had four other 200-yard games (217 against North Carolina State, 223 against Louisiana-Lafayette, 219 against UTEP and 284 against Tulsa).
Rivals.com projection: Second or third round.
Sunday's the day when Smith is scheduled run the 40-yard dash. His perceived lack of speed is one of the main reasons he isn't considered a likely first-round pick even after leading the NCAA with 2,567 rushing yards last season -- the second-highest single-season total in Division I-A history.

"They want to see my explosiveness," Smith said. "I don't think my vision or agility is in any question. They want to see how fast I can go 40 yards, whether that matters in a football game or not."

Smith said he hasn't second-guessed his decision to turn pro, even though seven other juniors also entered the NFL Draft pool and made the field of talented running backs much more crowded. Smith held a news conference in December to announce he was returning for his senior season, then changed his mind a few weeks later.

Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com rates Smith as the No. 6 running back and No. 51 overall prospect in this class.

Smith said he didn't bother asking the NFL advisory board when he might get drafted before making his final decision. "Why send a grade in if you're going to leave anyway?" he asked.

Smith pointed out that he proved he can deliver against big-time competition. He opened his junior season by rushing for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a 25-23 victory over N.C. State. Two weeks later, Smith gained 149 yards and scored twice in a 35-32 loss to Texas.

He didn't think he was bragging. Smith simply believes his numbers speak for themselves.

"I don't think I'm cocky, arrogant or conceited. There's an old saying that a spade is a spade," he said. "I'm definitely a spade. If I get drafted lower than I expected, I'm not going to let it define what type of player I am."

Smith later was asked what "I'm definitely a spade" meant.

"If you have game, you have game," he said. "I'm not one to try to hide it. I'm not one to boost any attributes about myself. I play the game of football. Everybody who watches me -- either you like it or you don't. But I still know how to play football, and I still know how to play running back. And I'm very good at running back."

Smith already has proved he can overcome adversity. After he was moved to safety as a senior at Miami's Southridge High, most schools recruited him only as a defensive back. Smith wanted to carry the ball in college and chose UCF, the only school that recruited him as a tailback.

He developed into the greatest player at UCF since Daunte Culpepper put the school on the map in the late 1990s. As far as Smith is concerned, it hardly matters that many of his biggest games came against Conference USA competition.

"It's not about what conference you play in," Smith said. "I single-handedly dominated my conference, hands down. I think that's what matters."

MORE: Rivals.com coverage from the NFL Scouting Combine

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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