November 3, 2007

Say Goodnight! - Anthony Smith Is The Sandman...

"Receivers better account for him. His name is getting out there. The film being put out there in the league, receivers see it and they know they better be thinking about it when they go across the middle."
- Larry Foote
Morning Stiller fans! Since we have the luxury of a Sunday off, I thought I'd give yinz something fun to chew on in the form of a profile of the hottest Steeler this side of the Allegheny, Anthony "Sandman" Smith (hey, Merriman already has "lights out," what do you want...). In just one and a half short years with the Steelers, the Free Safety out of Syracuse has made his impact more than felt. Just ask any receiver who has faced him...most recently the glitz and glamour tandem of Ocho Cinco and TJ Houshmanzadeh (see below for visuals1). But where did this monster come from?

Oddly enough, Smith is product of Ohio, just like a couple of other young Steelers we know. Hailing from Hubbard, a town just east of Youngstown and not far from the Pennsylvania border, Smith attended Hubbard High School, where he gathered All State honors his Junior year, and All Midwest Region honors his Senior year as a standout offensive/defensive back. From there, he departed for Syracuse, to become one of the best football players the school had ever seen (2).

At Syracuse, Smith was originally a back up running back, but not long into his freshman season, the coaching staff realized his true calling and moved him to free safety. Beginning with his sophomore season, Smith became a starter, and the rest is school history. In his 3 years as a starting Safety, Smith was responsible for 293 tackles and 14 interceptions, putting him 3rd in line among the school's all-time leaders. Plus, he nabbed a school record six blocked kicks and recorded 3 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries (1 returned for a touchdown), and 2 kicks returned for touchdowns. Basically, the man did it all and more in 46 games (3).

Smith was then drafted by the Steelers with their 2nd overall pick, in the 3rd round of the 2006 NFL draft, behind fellow native Ohioan Santonio Holmes. Smith played in all 16 games in 2006, recording a total of 15 tackles (a number he's already eclipsed through 7 games this season) and 2 interceptions. In his first career start last December against Cleveland, Smith recorded 2 solo tackles, 2 passes defended and his 1st career INT, merely foreshadowing his ability. Over the next 3 games as a starter, he recorded 9 more solo tackles, 2 passes defended, 3 Special Teams tackles, and yet another INT. So naturally, we all kind of assumed he'd be the starter come 2007. But then, September rolled around, and he was not.

Undiscouraged, Smith started this season as a backup, but still saw a decent amount of playing time over the first 4 games. And while he has only started TWO games this season (Week 5 against the Seachickens for an injured Polamalu and Week 8 against the Bungles, for injured Ryan Clark), he is impressively 5th in total tackles with 23 solo and just 3 assisted. The guys ahead of him in tackles: James Harrison, Ike Taylor, James Farrior, and Larry Foote. All full time starters. In fact, if you notice, Smith has more tackles than Polamalu (1 more that is), though Polamalu did miss a game and a half. But guys, Smith has only started TWO GAMES! PLUS, oh yeah, he's got a forced fumble and interception under his belt as well...

Like Troy Polamalu - soft spoken off the field, an untamed beast on, at only 5'11" and 192 pounds, Smith packs a punch with Greg Lloyd-esque force. The man plays to win, and plays with intensity, making no qualms about his physical style. When asked recently about said physicality, Smith asserted:
"Once I get on the field you can't tell me anything. I'm trying to hit everything."
So Derrick Mason, Demetrious Williams, Todd Heap, Steve McNair - watch your backs and say your prayers, 'cause the Sandman is coming.

Good. Night.

1Make 'em say uuuuuggggghhhhhhh...

Show me that greeeelllll now Chad...

2Anthony Smith Bio []
3Anthony Smith College Bio []

Smith's style of play makes receivers pay [Post-Gazette]
Steelers' Smith showcases intensity [Tribune-Review]
Steelers Anthony Smith might be hard to bench [Beaver County Times]

Ballhype: hype it up!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny how the League works.

You highlight Anthony Smith (and rightly so) as a playmaker and budding superstar only to have James "Silverback" Harrison come outta nowhere and play the game of his life:

9 tackles
3.5 sacks
1 interception
3 forced fumbles
1 fumble recovery

I've seen a lot of football, but i've never, EVER seen a linebacker play a more complete, dominant game than this MNF show by Harrison.

Frikkin' amazing.


PS- Terrell Suggs is a b*tch.