(Photo: ASU Athletics)
After a rough start this season, sophomore receiver Rick Smith is finally starting to make the impact most expected of him at the beginning of the year.
Against Stanford, Smith was targeted five times. Four passes fell for incompletions. His inconsistency and various dropped catches made coaches and fans question his ability. That goes especially for the error remembered by many: his fumble late in the third quarter against Notre Dame, which some may argue gave Notre Dame the momentum to upset ASU.
However, because of Jaelen Strong’s ankle injury, Smith got a second chance and turned all of that around last week, when Taylor Kelly connected with Smith, who juggled it a couple times before gaining control, for a 51-yard touchdown. Smith had three catches for 79 yards, only behind the obvious leaders of the offense: DJ Foster and Jaelen Strong.
“I was just making sure I came down with the ball,” Smith said. “I just told myself when the balls in the air, I’m going to come down with it.”
The performance Smith had was a confidence booster for both him and his fellow Sun Devils.
“They were pleased,” Smith said, addressing his teammates’ reactions. “They were telling me it was my turn around and just keep working hard, it’ll pay off”
Smith’s performance against Washington State earned him a spot in the starting lineup this week against Utah. He has 13 receptions for 167 yards and one touchdown so far this season, and after last week, there’s more to come.
“I bring more to the table from a defensive point, because they have to prepare for another person on the field instead of just the couple we have,” Smith said. “With more we have more of a threat.”
Against a Utah pass defense ranked ninth in the conference and with only two interceptions on the season, Smith will have the opportunity to step up and have another impressive game.
“You can expect the best from me,” Smith said. “But it’s all in God’s hands.”