"But then I realized what the game is actually turning to," the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Smith said. "Scouts like to see backs who get out in a receiver's position and catch balls, who get out and catch screens, who run routes. I knew that'd benefit me in the long run, so I decided to take advantage and hop on.
"I realized they're going to give talent the ball. If you have talent outside at receiver, they're going to get the ball outside. If you have talent in the backfield, they're going to find ways to get them the ball."
What the Mountaineers have found is that Sims and Smith aren't much different. Sims is an inch taller and a few pounds lighter. Smith has the reputation of an inside runner, Sims as an all-around player. WVU nevertheless wants similarly skilled players and those players have come to see it's not a forced fit.
"He can lower his shoulder as well," Smith said. "I know people expect that out of me because of the bigness I have, but he can do it also. I just know that if he gets in the open field, he's going to get that speed and he's gone."
Sims was the only player in the country in 2009 with at least 600 yards receiving and 600 yards rushing and he's likely to maintain that versatility upon reuniting with Holgorsen while adding special teams duty. Smith, meanwhile, is considered to be limited to bruising runs between the tackles.
"Well," Dawson said, "if they do pigeon hole him, they're making a huge mistake. If that kid gets in the open field, he'll outrun you as quick as anybody."
Smith has only been slowed slightly making the transition from junior college. The pace and the intensity of the weight room were new to him when he arrived in January, but so too were the elements that were a part of spring football and preseason practice. Smith rather liked that.
"We practiced every day at Butler," he said. "We had two-a-days and three-a-days and we were always in pads. I actually like these practices more than I did at Butler."
Smith missed a few days with a quad injury, but finished practice as a full participant.
"Other than that," he said, "it's the healthiest I've been since I steeped foot in Butler."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.