As frustrated fans of the St. Louis Rams search for fleeting signs of hope for success next season, many eyes are turning to the team's first round draft pick, Jason Smith. His talents are being touted as an important part of the team's restructuring.
As a freshman at Baylor, Smith started as a tight end, but soon made the switch to offensive tackle, where, by all accounts, his performance was impressive.
This despite the fact that Baylor was, all around, a pretty lousy team in Smith's senior year, going 4-8, making them one of the worst teams in the Big 12. Then again, experience on a team that doesn't do very well may come in handy for starting for the Rams.
Smith, 6'5 and 309 pounds, started all 11 games at left tackle in 2008, on an offensive line that paved the way for 2,349 rushing yards, a 251% increase from 2007's rushing total of 934 yards and the most rushing yards at BU since 1981.
Smith's intimidating presence helped the team make 29 rushing touchdowns, the third-highest total in school history. He also didn't give up any sacks. With the Rams making the subtle switch to a "west coast offense", a lineman capable of helping to produce these type of offensive numbers could come in awfully handy.
I know the folly of trying to predict how a player will fare in the NFL based on how well he performed in college. Every season produces its fair share of both surprises and disappointments.
However, if Smith's athleticism can turn around the Rams' running game the way that it turned around Baylor's, and if both Steven Jackson and Ray Bulger can get the offensive line protection that they deserve, this Rams season could be at least a little bit fun for fans to watch.