Sept. 17, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When it comes to pleasant surprises, University of Iowa freshman Jerminic Smith‘s name is at the top of the list.
Hawkeye football fans haven’t heard much of Smith yet, but he has seen action at wide receiver — with no catches — in victories against Illinois State and Iowa State.
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz was excited about Smith when he played for South Garland (Texas) High School, but he was really impressed when practices opened in August.
“He took off during the middle of camp and started to emerge from the pack and made a lot of nice plays,” Ferentz said. “By the end of preseason we were convinced he was our fifth receiver and was playing at a level where we could put him in a game and not waste his eligibility.
“We’re excited to work him in there and each week he gets more action.”
A three-time all-conference selection in Texas in 5A Region II District 12, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Smith was an honorable mention all-stater in 2014 by Texas Associated Press Sports Editors. UI receivers coach Bobby Kennedy identified Smith during his prep career, which is a main reason Smith is now a Hawkeye.
“Coach BK is a straight-up guy,” Smith said. “He let me know that if I work, I will have a chance to play, so I was all in.”
During his three seasons for the Colonels, Smith caught 162 passes for 2,635 yards and 31 touchdowns. As a senior, he hauled in 76 balls for 1,207 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“He took off during the middle of camp and started to emerge from the pack and made a lot of nice plays. By the end of preseason we were convinced he was our fifth receiver and was playing at a level where we could put him in a game and not waste his eligibility.”
UI football coach
Smith was one of three wide receivers the Hawkeyes signed in the Class of 2015. He is joined by fellow Texan Emmanuel Ogwo and Adrian Falconer from Florida. Like Smith, Falconer has also removed his redshirt.
“We compete. We tell each other, ‘Come on, let’s get it,'” Smith said.
And while there is a friendly rivalry among the first-year receivers, Smith said he has spent plenty of time since August watching the way senior Tevaun Smith goes about his business.
“I try to be as good as he is,” Smith said.
Smith is one of three true freshmen to see action this season. The Hawkeyes are off to an undefeated start with victories against Illinois State (31-14) and Iowa State (31-17).
“The first game I got a couple snaps and it was fun. I was excited and a little nervous,” Smith said. “It’s amazing, I can’t describe the feeling.”
The game experience has been rewarding. Smith says he not only understands his responsibilities more, but now he can practice and play at full speed.
As for Smith’s season goals, they are simple:
“Just winning and trying to be a team player. That’s it,” he said.
The Hawkeye wide receivers have combined for 23 of the team’s 31 receptions for 283 yards and all four touchdowns. Jerminic can’t wait to join Tevaun as a Smith with a pass reception. What will he do when that day comes?
“Catch the ball, that’s all I will be focused on,” Smith said.
Iowa returns to action Sept. 19 against Pittsburgh at 7:12 p.m. (CT). It will be the annual Black and Gold Spirit Game as well as America Needs Farmers Day inside Kinnick Stadium. To see whether you are asked to wear black or gold, click HERE.