November 6, 2008
By David Driver
For the Stafford County Sun
Used with permission
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Former Stafford High School football star Torrey Smith, with the game tied at 17 at halftime, returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 22 yards to the Maryland 33-yard line.
The Terps then drove 67 yards on four plays for a touchdown to take a 24-17 lead against North Carolina State on Oct. 25.
Maryland won 27-24 at home to improve its record to 6-2 overall and become Bowl-eligible after two awful losses early in the season. The game was played in a steady rain before more than 40,000 fans during Maryland’s Homecoming.
“That was awful,” Smith, a redshirt freshman, said of the weather conditions. “Whoever said it was fun to play football in the rain was lying.”
Smith, one of the top recruits in Virginia as a Stafford senior in 2006, is playing a key role for the University of Maryland after he was a redshirt last season.
Heading into the Nov. 6 game at Virginia Tech, which will be shown on national television from Blacksburg on ESPN at 7:30 p.m., Smith has returned 25 kickoffs for 618 yards this season for an average of 24.7 yards and a long of 57. That mark of 618 is a school record for a freshman.
“He has been nothing but a team guy,8 0 said Danny Pearman, a Maryland assistant coach in charge of special teams. “He is a team-oriented guy. He has been fairly productive on special teams. He has taken over for kickoff return duties. He has filled a role there.”
Smith also has eight catches for 101 yards for an average of 12.6 yards per catch, with a long of 44 yards. That means that each time he touches the ball he gains nearly 22 yards.
“I am definitely excited to have the opportunity,” he said. “It is fun to be a part of it. I knew I would have a role this year.”
Smith, 19, was recruited in high school by several major programs, including Virginia Tech and Penn State. He said he is looking forward to facing the Hokies in an Atlantic Coast Conference game in his home state. Smith was teammates at Stafford High with Jake Johnson, a freshman linebacker for Virginia Tech.
“It is exciting. I am used to being in the Virginia Tech crowd,” said Smith, who has attended several games in Blacksburg. “It is going to be fun.”
Smith, who also played basketball at Stafford High, said there were several reasons why he decided to attend Maryland. He wanted to be close to home since he is the oldest of seven children and wanted to be around for his mother, Monica Jenkins.
Smith is studying criminal justice with a minor in communications and he pointed out he was attracted to th e criminal justice program in College Park. He is also part of the 2008 Terrapin Council, the team’s leadership committee, and is one of the youngest players on the council. Last season he was voted the offensive player of the year for the scout team.
Smith said it was difficult to watch from the sidelines last season.
“It was tough. I was used to having a big role,” said the 6 foot 1 inch speedster, an All District player for Stafford in 2006 when he ran for 815 yards, threw for 230 yards and caught three passes. “It was tough at first, but I knew it was the best for me” to sit out a year.
He took summer school classes in 2007 and 2008 and is on track to graduate with his class.
So what makes him a successful kickoff returner?
“Being decisive. Make a quick decision and stay with it,” he said.