Indiana’s early commitment from Fairborn (Ohio) H.S. offensive lineman Jarrod Smith was a big one – and it’s only getting bigger.
A year ago, Smith starred for Coach Roy Thobe’s program to a 7-3 mark a year ago as a 6’4”, 245-pound offensive tackle. In the months since the close of the 2004 campaign, though, Smith has added 25 pounds to his frame thanks to extensive work in the weight room and by keeping a closer eye on his diet.
“I hit the weight room harder than I’ve ever hit it, and I started eating the right foods instead of fast food,” said Smith, who committed to Indiana in early June.
The 42nd-ranked player overall and the 10th-ranked offensive lineman from the Midwest region according to Scout.com, Smith also knew that no matter how productive he had been on the prep level, he was going to need to add some weight to his frame to attract interest from high Division I programs. In doing so, he’s been careful to make sure that it’s the right kind of weight as well.
“I’ve been adding bulk, not fat,” said Smith, who also had scholarship offers from West Virginia, Maryland, and nearly every team in the Mid-America Conference. “In college they want linemen big, but they want them quick, too. My feet have always been one of my strengths, and I wanted to be sure to keep that.”
Smith now combines that size with the sort of athleticism that makes him a candidate to play either tackle or guard at Indiana. The recently clocked a 4.45 in the shuttle and a 5.0 in the 40, showing that he’s quick enough to be able to pull and trap as a Big Ten guard. But he also has good enough feet and recovery speed to match up with defensive ends. A tackle at the prep level, Smith said he’s open to whatever the Indiana coaching staff has in mind.
“Coach (Bobby) Johnson said I could probably play anywhere,” said Smith. “I’m open to wherever there is an opening.”
Smith is one of five early commits for Coach Terry Hoeppner’s staff, along with Bloomington, Ind., quarterback Ben Chappell; Springfield, Ill., tight end Jeff Sanders; Marion, Ohio, tight end Brad Martin; and Plain City, Ohio, offensive lineman Pete Saxon. While Smith has played his prep football in the heart of Buckeye territory, he said it’s always been his dream to play for the Hoosiers.
That’s because the Ohio standout was born in Evansville, and developed an affinity for both IU football and basketball. While he spent only one year in the southern Indiana city, his father grew up in nearby Princeton, Ind., and IU has always been a part of the Smith family.
“We’re a military family, so we’ve around quite a bit,” said Smith. “I’ve lived in Tennessee where there are big Volunteer fans. I’ve lived in Ohio, where there are big Buckeye fans. Then I’ve also lived in Oklahoma, where there are big Sooner fans.
“But Indiana has always been my favorite.”
That certainly helped the cause of assistant coach Bobby Johnson, who spearheaded Smith’s recruitment. Still, Smith said he came away very impressed with the new IU staff.
“Over in Ohio, Coach Hoeppner is well known and his reputation is well known,” said Smith. “When I heard he was going to Indiana, I was pretty excited.
“Then, with the coaching staff, there’s just a respect you have when you enter the room. They were my favorite coaching staff of all the ones I dealt with. I know they are going to be successful, because they know how to win.”
Winning and Indiana football isn’t something that’s gone hand-in-hand in recent years, as the Hoosiers are trying to bring an end to a bowl game drought that dates back to the 1993 Independence Bowl. But Smith is convinced that Hoeppner, his staff, and the players that they are bringing in can turn things around in Bloomington.
“Coach Hoeppner is like the eighth winningest active coach in football right now, so you know he knows what he’s doing,” said Smith. “He’ll turn this program around, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”