"The Unknown Soldier" was the first single from The Doors' 1968 album - Waiting for the Sun, and was also the subject of one of the band's music videos. The song was Jim Morrison's reaction to the Vietnam War and the way that conflict was portrayed in American media at the time..
Many times college prospects are over looked or overshadowed by talent from bigger schools, character issues, inuries incurred, or just a lack of elite athleticism. In this series we'll use the title to recognize a few of those college football players who may be a little less known, but have talent that we can look at and evaluate for ourselves. And maybe, just maybe, we will see some of these players on our Practice Squad this fall..
Today's player profile focuses on Western Kentucky U's Defensive End Quanterus Smith...
Quanterus grew up in Loganville, Ga. and attended Grayson High School, where he received First-Team All-County honors playing football. He also lettered in Basketball for the Grayson Rams Basketball team.
Quanterus Smith was recruited by then Defensive Line coach Eric Mathies, was the only coach from a Sun Belt Conference school to make the list of top 10 recruiters from non-BCS Automatic Qualifying schools. Smith showed up at WKU weighing just 220 lbs under head coach Willie Taggart's Hilltopers, and started his career in 2010 at the linebacker position where he made 29 tkls, 18 ass'ts, for a total of 47 tkls, 4 sacks, 2 passes defensed and 1 fumble recovery. Simth continued playing at the LB position through the 2011 season where he amassed 38 total tkls with 18 ass'ts, and 7.5 sacks.
The 2012 season would bring a change for Quanterus Smith...
When Quanterus showed up for spring practice he pretty much knew that his senior season would hold some new and exciting times, especially coming off of his 7.5 sack junior season. Defensive Coordinator Lance Gyudry's playbook would remain the same as last year, but coach taggart had something different in mind for the once lanky 6'5 220 lb junior. He would gain weight to play defensive end, where his pass rushing skills would benefit the most. Smith was suspended for the opening game against Austin Peay for violation of team rules, but that wouldn't stop the senior from having a stellar year.
Shattered dreams doth lay across the field of battle...
Quanterus would go on to take opposing quarterbacks to the ground with 12.5 sacks, 38 total tkls, 10 ass'ts, 1 pass defensed, and 1 fumber recovery, before tearing his ACL in the 4th qtr of a game against Louisiana-Lafayette on November 11, 2012, missing the remaining two games of the aeason. Smith was having a monster season, ranking first in the nation with 12.5 (1.25 per game) sacks and ranked second nationally with 18.5 (1.85 per game) tackles for loss.
Head coach Willie Taggart had this to say about Smith, "Quanterus was having an incredible season, and my heart goes out to him as he begins the process of recovering from this injury. It is unfortunate that this would happen to a kid that worked so hard and was having such a great senior season, but I know if there is one kid that can get through something like this, Quanterus is definitely that kid. I know that he will bounce back and will continue to be a senior leader for our football team for the remainder of this season."
CBSSports.com had this to say...
02/23/2013 - Only quarterbacks hold more value in today's NFL than pass rushers and thus, Western Kentucky defensive end Quanterus Smith, who led the country with an average of 1.25 sacks in 2012, is certain to attract plenty of attention from scouts... even though he won't be able to workout at the Combine or potentially at all before the draft. Smith was leading the nation with 12.5 sacks when he tore the ACL in his left knee against Louisiana-Lafayette on November 17. He underwent surgery to repair the ligament November 29 and hasn't been able to workout sufficiently since. In fact, he told NFLDraftScout.com that he doesn't plan to start running on his knee until he leaves the combine early next week and isn't sure that he'll be able to work out at Western Kentucky's Pro Day. As such, teams may have to draft him based on the faith that he'll recover from the injury, making the medical reports clubs receive on him as critical to his draft stock as with any player in the 2013 draft. The 6-4, 253-pound Smith lacks the bulk teams prefer at defensive end and is the first to admit that he needs to get better at setting the edge against the run. He is, however, a talented pass rusher who stepped up his game against top competition, including posting three sacks against the vaunted Alabama offensive line in the second game of the 2012 season for both clubs. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
The NFL loves pass rushers and, as former Sun Belt Conference star DeMarcus Ware has proven since emerging as one of the league's elite outside linebackers with the Dallas Cowboys, they're willing to go to the so-called lesser conferences to find them. What Smith lacks in name recognition he certainly doesn't lack in game. Just ask the University of Alabama, which gave up three sacks to the 2012 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year in the 2012 season opener. The long-armed collegiate defensive end victimized the Tide's talented tackle duo of Cyrus Kouandjio and D.J. Fluker with speed, agility and an impressive array of rip and arm-over swim moves, just as he did numerous other victims on his way toward leading the country with 12.5 tackles (along with 18.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles) when his senior season was cut short by a torn ACL suffered Nov. 17 against Louisiana-Lafayette. While the injury will obviously harm his draft stock, Smith's success (24 career sacks) hasn't gone unnoticed by scouts. While perhaps not yet strong enough to handle being consistently run at, teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 schemes each are surely intrigued by Smith's length, speed off the edge and improvement.
Strengths: Possesses good strength at this time and the lanky frame to add more mass without a significant loss of quickness. Shows impressive burst off the snap to get the tackle on his heels, as well as the flexibility to dip under his opponent's reach and the lateral agility to counter back inside. Uses his hands well, showing a classic arm-over swim move, as well as a hard chop to break free from tackles latching onto his jersey.
Good lateral agility to slip blocks at the edge and shows good overall athleticism, speed and hustle in pursuit. Plays with good leverage to hold up better than expected in the running game. Has improved each year of his career.
Weaknesses: While the performance against Alabama was impressive, much of his production came against lower-level competition, including an eye-popping five sacks against Florida International. Relies on his agility and leverage to hold up against the run but is too often pushed off the line and/or sealed off from the action, which could necessitate a move to outside linebacker in the NFL, a position he has never played.
Suffered a torn ACL to his left knee on Nov. 17 and underwent surgery shortly after the end of WKU's regular season, making his ability to handle the position change all the more questionable.
The prospect will be 24 years old on November 26, 2013. He was unable to workout and the only measuements we have are his height - 6'4 5/8" 248 lb, 10 3/8" hands, 33 1/4" arms. What ever happens with this young man, I wish him the best and you never know where a Demarcus Ware lurks in the shadows...
This is the end ... The end my friend ... The end.