UPDATED: Reggie Smith will skip senior season at OU for NFL
BY Guerin Emig, World Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
1/15/08 at 5:31 PM
NORMAN -- Oklahoma's football team took another hit Tuesday when cornerback Reggie Smith became the third Sooner underclassman to declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft.
Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly made his decision last week. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton announced his intentions Monday. For Smith, it came down to Tuesday afternoon, the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft.
"It was hard for him," said Smith's dad, Reggie Sr. "He weighed all his options, took his time thinking it through. I didn't have a take which way he was going. It's always been 50-50 since he got serious (about turning pro).
"He called me at work today after lunch and said, 'Dad Im gonna do that (turn pro). I said, 'You sure? OK.' I left it at that. We gave our perspective on it, but we let Reggie make his call. We fully back him."
Smith wasn't available for comment. OU coach Bob Stoops said, "Reggie was a good player for us and we wish him the best."
He now turns his attention to enhancing his stock for the April 26-27 draft. He has been spotted at the end of some mock draft first rounds.
The Sooners, meanwhile, go on about their offseason with another hole to fill. Their secondary is particularly spotty.
Both their '07 starting cornerbacks, Smith and departing senior Marcus Walker, are gone. So are senior safeties D.J. Wolfe and Darien Williams. Nickel safety Lendy Holmes is in limbo after missing the Fiesta Bowl due to academics.
That leaves starting free safety Nic Harris, who is returning for his senior season, and a number of unproven defensive backs.
Dominique Franks, the sophomore-to-be from Union, made his first start at the Fiesta Bowl after Smith broke his toe in OU's Big 12 championship victory over Missouri. He joins junior-to-be Brian Jackson as the top two candidates to replace Smith heading into spring practice.
Both will be hard-pressed to duplicate their predecessor's feats.
Smith's All-Big 12 2007 season included 78 tackles, three interceptions and a 61-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Miami.
Smith moved from cornerback and became an all-conference strong safety in 2006. He was a Sporting News Freshman All-American in '05, when he started OU's last nine games at safety.
Smith also returned kicks his last two seasons. He brought back a Middle Tennessee punt 61 yards for a touchdown in '06, but he also muffed a punt at Colorado on Sept. 29, a mistake that helped the Buffaloes tie a game they would eventually win, 27-24.
If that was Smith's low point as a Sooner, he had many more highs. And that, according to his dad, made Tuesday's decision to leave a difficult one.
"That was the hardest thing, leaving those kids he came in with behind," Reggie Smith Sr. said. "They all came in together, and it's always hard to leave family."