Big 12: Chance Blackmon

Smith's departure robs Colorado of top deep threat

May, 31, 2009
5/31/09
2:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Josh Smith apparently has decided that the career route to becoming the next Jay-Z or Fifty Cent can be furthered by attending a school other than Colorado.

Smith and tight end Ryan Wallace have announced they are leaving the school. The move snatches away one of Colorado's top receivers and a developing player in Wallace who many thought could turn into a serviceable Big 12 tight end.

Smith announced that he's leaving Colorado because he wants to pursue a musical career after producing rap demos and CDs since high school. Schools that have the music major he's interested in are Arizona State and USC.

Additionally, the Boulder Camera reported that Smith spent time in the Phoenix area with Arizona State quarterback Samson Szakacsy recording tracks. That seemingly would provide a neat entry into the Sun Devils program if Smith should choose to continue playing at his new school.

Smith's departure comes after he dropped on the team's depth chart over the spring. The Buffaloes aren't exactly loaded at the position and Smith was expected to challenge for a starting job this spring.

But he struggled at times as Markques Simas and Dustin Ebner zoomed past him at his "X" wide receiver position and Scotty McKnight and walk-on Jason Espinoza are fixtures on the other side.

The other question will be how this affects the Buffaloes' relationship with heralded running back Darrell Scott, who is Smith's nephew.

Scott had a strong spring after struggling during his freshman season last year. He reportedly tried to talk Smith out of transferring.

And Wallace was listed at fifth-string on the Buffaloes' post-spring depth chart but was thought to have a good future with the program. He becomes the third member of the heralded 2008 recruiting class to leave Colorado, joining linebacker Lynn Katoa and wide receiver Chance Blackmon.

Colorado's biggest offensive weakness is its lack of breakaway threats. Smith is the team's best deep threat and top kickoff returner.

With a heavy ground-based attack, new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau hopes to build more of a vertical play-action passing game. He already will be making a tough choice between quarterbacks Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen and taking away his best deep threat won't help the offense's productivity.

The Colorado offense ranked last in the Big 12 last season in total offense and scoring. Smith was a critical element in plans for coach Dan Hawkins, who vowed his team would "win 10 games with no excuses" this season after a disappointing 5-7 record last year.

Even with Smith's drop on the depth chart, it's still not a good situation for the Buffaloes or their ability to stretch the field with Smith leaving.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

A productive day at College Station yesterday has me excited about spring football all across the Big 12.

As such, I couldn't wait to scan through the newspapers and Web sites early this morning to see what was happening around the conference.

Here are some of the more notable stories.

  • A leaner Nebraska defensive end Pierre Allen tells the Omaha World-Herald's Rich Kaipust that he's more able to withstand the demands of playing the Cornhuskers' defense after his recent body transformation.
  • Bryan Eagle beat writer Robert Cessna reports that Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is making do with his current roster until his mammoth 28-man squadron of freshmen arrives later this summer.
  • Veteran Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel claims that the controversy about Texas awarding itself an asterisk-influenced Big 12 championship has been greatly overblown.
  • Funeral services have been set for Saturday for Kyle Woods, a paralyzed former Baylor defensive back who died last week after a heart attack, the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner reports.
  • The Boulder Camera's Kyle Ringo reports that Colorado coaches are scrambling to find enough young wide receivers after freshman Chance Blackmon stunned them by announcing he wants to transfer.
  • The Lincoln Journal-Star's Brian Christopherson writes about former walk-on Nebraska safety Matt O'Hanlon, who is hoping to build on his game-saving play at the end of the Cornhuskers' Gator Bowl victory over Clemson.
  • The Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson writes that Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson is relieved that new secondary coach Chris Ash decided to stay with the Cyclones.
  • Missouri starting tailback Derrick Washington looked good in his first practice of the spring, Kansas City Star beat writer Mike De Armond reports.
  • Greg Evans of the Web site bleacherreport.com analyzes Oklahoma's offense and defense heading into Saturday's spring game in Norman.

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