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Chaney's Smith ready for switch



Published: Mon, May 1, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The standout quarterback at Missouri will be a wide receiver with the Jets.

By BILL SULLIVAN

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

BOARDMAN -- With a smile bright enough to light up a vacant NFL stadium, Brad Smith addressed a gathering of local news media representatives Sunday evening.

Amid a crush of family, friends and several fellow church members, Smith spoke about his upcoming professional football career in the National Football League.

Smith was drafted by the New York Jets with the sixth pick of the fourth round and was the 103rd overall selection.

His was the sixth name called when the draft resumed Sunday.

While he completed a remarkable career as a quarterback at the University of Missouri, the Jets could switch Smith to play receiver. That switch would be accepted as a welcomed challenge to the Chaney High graduate.

"God always had a plan for me," Smith said of the selection by the Jets.

"I'm going to go out and step up and make plays. They like me as a person and want the ball in my hands."

New Jets fan

Smith admitted he just became a Jets fan Sunday afternoon, right before his selection was posted on the televisions across America.

The Jets phoned Smith to tell him of their decision and the magnitude of the call began to set in immediately.

"It's really the big city; I'm excited," Smith said.

"I realized somebody really wanted me."

Smith set a boatload of records at Missouri -- he broke or equaled 69 school, league and NCAA standards.

Most notably, he's the only college player in Division I-A history to throw for 8,000 career yards and run for 4,000 yards.

But, over his notable career at Chaney and at Missouri, he's only caught one pass in that spell -- a throw-back aerial this season.

So, would the possible position switch be too daunting an assignment?

"You knew he was a special player the first time he walked on the field," said Chaney football coach Ron Berdis who was among the warm embrace present to receive Smith.

"He really deserved this," Berdis said. "Brad has such a great work effort. This is the culmination of a brilliant career."

No favorites

Smith never was a fan of one certain NFL team before Sunday.

"I enjoy everyone," he said of the league.

Asked if there was one NFL player he admired most, Smith thought for a second and said no.

"I'm an unique person. I'm myself," he answered.

He has nearly completed a Masters degree in Economics after earning an undergraduate degree in Finance.

Still, he never dreamed of playing football as a career until last fall.

"I never thought of it, not until this year."

Now, he has to quickly prepare for a rookie camp that's set in about a week.

"It feels pretty good," Smith said.

"I have the opportunity to play and compete. It's for my family."

sullivan@vindy.com




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