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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tested UVa receiver eyes big senior campaign

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Posted: Sunday, August 11, 2013 4:37 pm | Updated: 9:02 pm, Mon Aug 12, 2013.

An edge-sealing block on one day to spring a first down was followed by a catch in-between three defenders to gain a touchdown on the next.

Tim Smith has made it through his final first week of Virginia fall camp. He’s made it though in good health and in good form.

And that can only be good news for the Cavaliers.

“He’s a great playmaker, one of the hardest workers on the team, and he’s had a battle with injuries,” said receivers coach Marques Hagans. “He did a lot better this spring. So hopefully that’s an indication of what’s to come for this camp and this season. If he can stay healthy the whole year, then that gives the offense a whole other look.”

Smith is a 6-foot, 195-pound fifth-year senior receiver and former high school All-American. He has career totals of 71 catches, 1,202 yards, nine touchdowns and all kinds of trips to the training room.

“Probably my first year, that’s about it,” Smith said when asked for the last time he’s been at 100 percent. “My second year, I tore both ligaments in my ankle. Third year, it was working my way back up. Last year, it was being healthy here and there.”

Prior to the start of 2012, Smith set a specific goal of gaining 1,000 yards, an attempt to be the first Virginia receiver to achieve such a feat since Billy McMullen did it in 2001.

Because of a nagging hamstring issue, he played in just nine games. He gained just 405 yards. 

Heading into 2013, Smith has the same goal — and the same hope for good health.

It’s early August, but the Oscar Smith product said he is at 100 percent.

Considering his history, is this a strange feeling?

“It it a little weird, but I have no regards for anything I do,” Smith said. “I try to do everything 100 percent. I don’t care about anything at all.”

Smith is in a receiving group that returns all 140 catches and 1,883 yards from last season. There’s veterans like Darius Jennings (48 snags, 568 yards in ’12) and Dominique Terrell (38, 475), a solid contributor like E.J. Scott (29, 380) and a potential breakout player in sophomore Adrian Gamble (3, 35).

But, according to head coach Mike London, picking out the headliner is easy.

“He’s our fastest guy on our team right now,” London said. “He’s that deep threat guy. He’s a guy you line up at slot or 1-on-1 in a 3-x-1 formation or crack-back on the safety. He’s got that mentality, that mindset.

“We’re expecting big things from Tim.”

Since it’s been so long, what exactly should Wahoo fans be looking for when they finally spot Tim Smith without some kind of limp holding him back?

The first week of camp provided some examples. Thursday, he smacked a defender so hard to clear way for Terrell on an end around that he had offensive line coach Scott Wachenheim racing out to tap him on the helmet. Friday, he was the highlight of a red zone drill when he squeezed in a David Watford scoring toss in-between the likes of Demetrious Nicholson, Brandon Phelps and Daquan Romero. 

“[Fans can expect] a lot of big plays and definitely a big presence in the run game,” Smith said. “Definitely just taking the top off a lot of defenses this year.”

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