March 23, 2012

Smith excited to join the Michigan family

Coming into his Michigan visit last Saturday, Warren (Ohio) Howland running back Deveon Smith wasn't expecting to make a commitment. In fact, it's a policy at Howland that players are supposed to take a couple days to decompress before coming to a decision.

"I tell our guys that they've gotta go home, sit down and analyze," said Howland coach Dick Angle. "Take a deep breath and get away from the hype and the excitement and say, "Is this where I want to spend four years? Are these the kind of guys and coaches I want to be with?" Obviously if those two answers are 'yes,' then you're ready to make a decision."

Smith, a 5-11, 210-pound bruiser who is ranked a three-star and the No. 32 back in the nation, was blown away by his trip to Ann Arbor, however. He was so impressed, that he couldn't help but commit immediately after returning home.

"I got home, and I sat down and talked to my mom about it," Smith explained. "Then I decided to call. The coaches said 'we're really happy to have you, we're happy you're part of our family, and we can't wait to see you on the field.'"

His role on the field for Michigan should be a well-defined one. Michigan is planning to use more pro-style sets in their offense going forward, and a bruising tailback like Smith is exactly what they need to keep the chains moving.

"They said after Denard Robinson is gone, they're going to go back to the I-formation," Smith explained. "They said I would be a perfect fit to fill that position at running back, just because they know I'm a bruising back."

Not only do Michigan's coaches know that Smith is a good fit, but his high school coach has seen the same things.

"They're still going to run the spread, but they're going to be more under center and downhill running, and that's what he specializes in," said Angle. "He's a big powerful young man that's got great balance and doesn't fumble the football. Those are the kind of guys you're going to need if you're going to line up in the I. You need a couple tailbacks like that, and I'm sure they'll bring another one in besides Deveon."

Bringing in another back - the top target is Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy four-star Ty Isaac - is something that doesn't scare Smith. If Isaac is the other back that Michigan lands, the two backs have a different style and can be used in different ways.

In addition, Smith is confident in his abilities on the field. Michigan's coaches have established a strict meritocracy on the depth chart, and impressing in practice is the only way to ensure playing time - regardless of class standing.

"I think they're still going for one more back," said Smith. "As far as I know, playing time-wise, they didn't mention anything. They said, 'if you come out on the field and you show out better than any other back, no matter what grade you're in you're going to start.'"

Smith has more than a year to worry about playing time in college, though. He's still preparing for his senior year on the gridiron, and hopes to improve upon a junior season in which he ran for 2,200 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Tigers fell in the opening round of the state playoffs, and Smith wants to make a deeper run in 2012. Now that the pressure of a college decision is off his shoulders, he's ready to continue improving on the field.

"It's definitely a big weight off my shoulders so I can focus in the weight room, and get my team ready for this year, my senior year," Smith said. Hopefully, we can go win state this year."

Smith will be back in Ann Arbor a couple times this Spring - including a trip to take in the annual spring game April 14.

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