Colorado playmakers facing their childhood favorite team

September, 25, 2008
9/25/08
2:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Not too many years ago, Josh Smith and his nephew, Darrell Scott, had vivid garnet and gold dreams about playing college football.

It was understandable that both wanted to be members of the Florida State Seminoles. For a time, both grew up in Tallahassee -- only a couple of long touchdown passes away from Doak Campbell Stadium and the FSU campus.

"That's where I first really got interested in playing football," said Smith, who wore a No. 9 jersey early in his career so he could emulate FSU All-American Peter Warrick. "I remember the football was very competitive. Guys were very quick and we first started playing this game called 'Kill the Carrier.' And after a few weeks, me and Darrell started dominating in these games."

Those memories stemming from those dusty playgrounds are serving as an emotional touchstone for Smith and Scott, who eventually moved to California and are now members of the Colorado Buffaloes. Both are looking forward to their matchup against their former favorite team Saturday at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

"It's kind of like a flashback for me," said Scott, who was ranked as one of the nation's top prospects in the 2008 recruiting class. "I used to root for them when I was kid, so it will be a little bit awkward -- for maybe five minutes or so."

Scott and Smith have emerged as key playmakers for the Buffaloes, who will be gunning for their first 4-0 start since 1998 in Saturday's game against the Seminoles.

A bigger immediate concern for both players is finding enough tickets to satisfy friends and family from across the Sunshine State who will be flocking to Saturday's game.

"I think we've got to get about 50 tickets for everybody," said Smith, a multi-faceted receiver/returner who has scored touchdowns in each of the Buffaloes' first three games. "Our family is coming from all over. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that we have to leave for Colorado and they're all having a big seafood feast after the game. They're having shrimp and lobster and we've got to go back home."

Smith ranks second on the Buffaloes' roster with 10 receptions for 119 yards and a team-leading two touchdown grabs. And he showed his game-breaking abilities with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Colorado State in his first career return.

But the start for Scott, one of the nation's top recruits, has been a little less dramatic. The bullish 6-1, 220-pounder has been hampered by a nagging knee injury that has slowed him down since a victory over Eastern Washington in the Buffaloes' second game.

During his absence, Rodney Stewart has emerged as the Buffaloes' top ball-carrier, capped by his 166-yard effort against West Virginia last week.

Scott rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown in the Buffaloes' season-opening victory over Colorado State, but has seen his rushing yardage shrink in each of the next two games. It's been a little bit of a disappointment for the Big 12's preseason Newcomer of the Year, as selected by the conference's media members.

"My knee isn't bothering me as much now and I'm ready to go," Scott said. "I'm not banged up and I'm just ready to go out and get my chance to play. It's been a setback, but just something I've had to bounce back from. It's nothing too big."

He could learn a lesson in dealing with injuries from Smith, who missed three games early last season after suffering a bruised kidney during preseason practice. That injury, which caused him to be hospitalized for four days, kept him from ever feeling in synch with his new offense. Smith failed to score a touchdown all season as he gradually played his way back into shape.

"I felt like it was almost unfair, but I didn't want to redshirt and watch the season play out," Smith said. "And because of that, I'm in Darrell's ear all the time telling him everything will be O.K. His knee is slightly serious, but I want to encourage him to keep his confidence up. My best advice for him is to play hard because I've seen him fight through those kind of injuries before."

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins has been pleased with the early contributions of both players, but he's counting on more as they get more familiar with their roles in the offense.

"Josh was very new to football when he came to us," Hawkins said. "He hadn't played a lot and we threw him into the fire as true freshman and he made some big plays for us. He'd never been a returner before (this seas) and scored a touchdown in his first game. I still think he has a long way to go even though he's a very good player."

And Scott's development will be benefited as his returns to health and becomes more accustomed to college football, Hawkins said.

"He came here later than some of our other freshmen and didn't get the benefit of the conditioning and lifting like a lot of them did," Hawkins said. "There was a slower start for him, but he's starting to understand our offense. These are some good kids and they are really good players."

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