Aug 24, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorBrett Smith is my favorite college football player for the upcoming season.
The University of Wyoming sophomore quarterback made a name for himself as a freshman last year when he jumped right into the starting lineup.
Smith was so eager to play for the Cowboys, he graduated early from his high school in Oregon so he could play in spring ball.
The plan worked.
When Smith was put under center, he played like he was the leader of the team from the start. I started to cheer for him when UW played the mighty Nebraska Cornhuskers before a sold out crowd at War Memorial Stadium.
I happened to be on the sidelines with a press pass and saw Smith up close. His passes were on for most of the game, and he didn't play like he was a freshman. He played like he was a junior or senior. He didn't get rattled by the pressure put on by the big Nebraskan farm boys. The Cowboys lost the game, but Smith gained my respect. I jumped on his bandwagon.
Smith never slowed down his freshman season; he averaged 256.3 yards of total offense.
The average ranked him No. 2 in the Mountain West Conference. Smith averaged 201.7 per game passing yards.
Smith also received two Player of the Week awards in the MWC for his performances against San Diego State and New Mexico.
He has a career-high of 365 yards in a 30-27 victory over the Aztecs, and he guided the Pokes to the New Mexico Bowl where they lost to Temple.
This year, I have bigger expectations for Smith and the rest of his UW teammates.
The marquee contest for the Pokes this year is Saturday, Sept. 1, against Texas in Austin, Texas. The 6 p.m. kickoff game is on my birthday. The perfect present would be a victory by the Pokes, but it probably won't happen. I'm just hoping Smith will get out of Austin unhurt. The last time the Pokes played on my birthday was Sept. 1, 2007, in a 23-3 win over Virginia.
I predict UW will win its next three games in wins over Toledo (Sept. 8), Cal Poly (Sept. 15) and a road victory against Idaho (Sept. 22).
The Pokes play MWC newcomer University of Nevada on Oct. 6 and probably will come home with a setback. UW will be 3-2 after the first five games. The next three games are against Air Force (Oct. 13), Fresno State (Oct. 20) and Boise State (Oct. 27) will net one victory over the Falcons to stand at 4-3.
Smith won't let the Pokes lose to Colorado State in a home victory Nov. 3 in Laramie. Then comes the home stretch with games at New Mexico (Nov. 10), UNLV (Nov. 17) and at home with San Diego State (Nov. 24).
I know life on the road is never easy, but the Pokes can get two wins over the Lobos and the Rebels for a lot of momentum in a home game against the Aztecs.
SDSU won't want to play a game in November in Laramie. The weather is going to be chilly, and Smith should be able to find a way to go more than 300 yards again against the Aztecs.
If you add up the wins, that is 8-4. The Cowboys are going bowling with for a second consecutive season.
Smith will produce another outstanding season for the Pokes. This year, I'm hoping to get an interview with him after a UW victory sometime during the season.
By the time Smith leaves UW, the quarterback will go down as one of the best ones in school history. He might even turn into a Heisman Trophy candidate by the time he is finished.
It's still early for UW fans to jump on his bandwagon, but there should be plenty of room.
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