Friday, October 21, 2011

2009 Penn game bring back painful memories for Smith

As if suffering a shutout loss at the hands of Penn wasn't a bitter enough pill to swallow, Chris Smith saw his freshman season come to an end when he suffered a hip injury in the 2009 game at Penn.

Earlier this week, I asked Smith to look back to his last experience at Franklin Field.

"I remember coming back with a broken hip," Smith said. "It wasn't exactly what I had planned. It was my freshman year, I was kind of just getting the hang of college football. I remember catching a post and a guy's helmet came in, kind of popped me and ended my season a little early. I am definitely going down there looking to get a 'w' this time and come back healthy.

"I've made that ride back from Penn once after not winning and kind of ending our season at that point. I think a lot of guys remembered how that tasted, how that felt taking that 3-hour bus ride back after a loss. We are going to do all we can to make sure that doesn't happen."

Yale coach Tom Williams vividly recalls the injury Smith suffered against Penn in 2009 and how it preventing him from continuing to develop as a go-to receiver for the Bulldogs as a freshman.

"That was difficult because we was just starting to come on as a freshman," Williams said. "Gio (Christodoulou) had gotten hurt against Cornell, Chris had started to really emerge as a go-to guy and then he gets hurt. I think that devastated for our football team because at that point we didn't really have anyone to be a threat down the field. He used that to get his body stronger and when he came back he was physically stronger, bigger, faster. As painful as it was at the time, I think it has made him a better football player."
Picking up a victory and remaining in first place in the Ivy League is No. 1 on Smith's priority list this week as Yale plays at Penn Saturday at noon on a game being televised by VERSUS. But he does have a chance for some personal milestones.

With one catch, he would move into a tie for eighth on Yale's career charts and he needs just three catches to tie former teammate Jordan Forney's for seventh place on the all-time list. He needs 131 receiving yards to break into the top 10 in that category while he is 100 yards away from Robert Carr's Yale career record for kickoff return yardage. The remarkable part of all of this is that Smith has done all of this and he still has as many as 15 games left in his Yale career.

More than any individual statistics, it is Smith's toughness that stands out when Williams thinks of his star receiver. It was an attribute Williams noticed when Smith took a recruiting visit to Yale shortly after Williams was hired at Yale. Williams jokingly questioned whether Smith was a glamour boy and wondered how important football was to him. Smith looked Williams in the eye and told him he lives to play football. Williams has discovered that wasn't just idle chatter on Smith's part.

"He's one of the toughest guys I have ever been around at any position," Williams said. "I think the reason why is that he is mentally tough but he is also physically tough. He worked to put himself in great condition. He really works hard at that but he is just a gritty, hard-nosed guy who loves to play the game. He really enjoys being around it, loves everything about it. He is one of the few guy who I have been around who really likes practice. Those guys are few and far between. I think the combination of all those things is what makes him such a tough football player."

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Anonymous Steve Moyer said...

I'm a huge Chris Smith fan. Make the big plays tomorrow, big guy!

11:47 AM 

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