Former Maryland star Torrey Smith "would be honored" to play for Ravens

Speedy wide receiver looks to show he's more than a flash in the pan

February 25, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

INDIANAPOLIS — The Ravens need a deep threat at wide receiver, and Maryland's Torrey Smith would like to fill that void.

"To be able to play for the Ravens, it would definitely be a great situation for me, being that I played at Maryland," Smith said Friday at the NFL scouting combine. "I know how demanding the fans are, what they expect and how much they love the Ravens. I would be honored to wear the purple and black."

Whether the feelings are mutual won't be known until 61 days from now, when the Ravens will make the 26th overall selection in the draft.

Smith, 22, has the size (6 feet, 205 pounds). He has the speed (he's expected to run one of the top times in the 40-yard dash Sunday). And he has the stats (15.7 yards per catch and 12 touchdowns last season for the Terrapins).

What he needs to do at the combine is distinguish himself from the log-jammed second tier of wide receivers that includes Boise State's Titus Young, Pittsburgh's Jonathan Baldwin, Miami's Leonard Hankerson and Nebraska's Niles Paul. Ravens officials are expected to talk to Smith either at the combine or in a pre-draft visit.

"I'm sure other teams are going to like him as well," Ravens player personnel director Eric DeCosta said of Smith. "You start to watch the tape, and he's been very impressive. We'll continue to look at him and see how all of that plays out."

If there is a team that is need of speed, it's the Ravens. Their 40 passes of 20 yards or more were tied for 27th in the NFL. Their two touchdown passes of more than 40 yards also ranked near the bottom of the league, and neither was to Anquan Boldin or Derrick Mason.

NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi said the Ravens have too many possession receivers and not ones who can win one-on-one battles to stretch the field.

"I think Baltimore desperately needs an outside-of-the-numbers wide receiver," Lombardi said. "They might be one of the slowest teams in the league outside."

The Ravens acknowledge a downfield target for Joe Flacco's strong arm is on the team's list of needs.

"We always want to get better and, obviously, [to have] a 'speed receiver,'" coach John Harbaugh said. "But I would like to have just good receivers. To me, what their 40 time is is important, but do they play fast? Are they in and out of breaks quickly? Can they make radius catches? Can they make plays downfield? We've got some guys who can do that, but we're looking to get better, no doubt."

Outrunning cornerbacks has never been a problem for Smith. He could cover 40 yards in 4.4 seconds on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.

The bigger challenge is creating distance between himself and Darrius Heyward-Bey, the lightning-fast former Maryland receiver who has yet to live up to expectations as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft.

"I feel like it's ignorant to compare two people who are completely different," Smith said. "Just because we went to the same school doesn't mean anything. If I didn't go to Maryland, we wouldn't be having this conversation. At the end of the day, we're two completely different people and I'm going to have a completely different path than he is."

Smith has been working hard to improve his game. He has been training with Ravens wide receiver Donte' Stallworth in an effort to sharpen his route running.

Another question is whether Smith will be physical enough to get open. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock questioned Smith's ability to get free against bigger cornerbacks.

"If you watched me on film, probably five or six of my touchdowns came against press coverage," Smith said. "When I know a corner is going to press me in college, I feel like I'm going to make a big play. So it doesn't bother me at all."

Judging Smith's character isn't as subjective. The oldest of seven children, Smith, from Colonial Beach, Va., helped raise his siblings while his single mother attended community college during the day and worked at night. He was in charge of the household chores (bathing, dressing and feeding his brothers and sisters) while still earning honor roll grades in school.

Before his last season at Maryland, Smith was once again parenting his younger siblings because his mother was locked up for six months after a family dispute turned violent. She is out on probation.

"It's another blessing to be here," Smith said. "I've obviously went through a lot to be here, and it helped me a lot more than it hurt me. I'm just happy to be here."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh recently read an article on Smith's hardship.

"There's some great stories in college football and the National Football League [about] what guys have overcome, what players have done to get to this point. Torrey Smith is one of those stories," Harbaugh said. "There are a lot of role models in football right now."

When told of Harbaugh's comment, Smith said, "That's really cool; I didn't even know the guy knew my name."

Every NFL team is aware of Smith's name by now. He has already talked to the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers and has 16 more interviews lined up at the combine.

"It still gives me goose bumps to even think of having my name called by an NFL team," Smith said of draft day. "It's something I look forward to and something I'm grateful for."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

Smith's stats

YearRec.YardsAvg.TDs20082433614.0220096182413.552010671,05515.712Total1522,21514.619

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