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Smith Ends WVU Career, Looks Forward To NFL

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West Virginia University Quarterback Geno Smith came a long way from the days when he backed up Jarrett Brown to his final play as a Mountaineer. The roller coaster ride included many highs and certainly a fair share of lows.

Smith went from an offensive system that tried to make him a dual threat in 2010 to Dana Holgorsen's up-tempo, record breaking offense in 2011. That change in offensive systems fueled his growth and perhaps, put him in position to be the first quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL draft.

"I can't sway people's opinions on me," Smith said following the Pinstripe Bowl loss to Syracuse. "Everyone has their own opinion. People are going to like me, people are going to dislike me. That is just the way the world works. My thing is every time I take the field for practice, workouts and even games I am going to make sure that I give it my all and put my best foot forward."

Smith's body of work in 2012 was nothing short of impressive. He began the season by leading the Mountaineers to a perfect 5-0 start. He quickly ascended to the position of Heisman Trophy frontrunner having not thrown an interception in those victories. But as quickly as he and the Mountaineers rose to the top, they also fell.

One phrase that will likely be overused between now and the NFL draft is "body of work." Smith's body of work or, his season and career numbers, make him one of the top quarterback prospects in the NFL. He finished the year with 4,201 passing yards, 42 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The main number NFL scouts will focus on is his completion percentage, which closed out at 71 percent this season.

"My career as a whole, I want to say I did some pretty good things," Smith stated. "I almost got 100 touchdowns in a career with less than 20 interceptions. I want to say that is a good career. I think I did a great job. My family is proud of me and I think that is all that matters."

Numerous mock drafts view Smith as the top quarterback in the draft. When asked to state his case as just that, Smith quickly pointed out that is opinion and will be determined by NFL franchises. However, he did not hesitate to sell himself to potential employers.

"I'm a competitor first," Smith stated. "I want to be the best. I am not going to settle for less and I am not going to take mediocrity. What I did in college has nothing to do with what I will do on the next level. One thing they should know is that I am going to put in the work to be the best and I am not going to stop until I do that."

Putting in the work for Smith will entail training and preparing for February's NFL combine, work he says will begin in earnest on January 4.

While Smith is about to embark on a long road that will determine where his NFL career begins, WVU begins a long journey towards figuring out who will replace Smith as the starting quarterback.

Will it be Sophomore Paul Millard, Freshman Ford Childress or, perhaps someone else?

Millard served as Smith's backup each of the last two seasons. Childress spent his freshman year as the number three quarterback on the roster. He never entered a game and therefore will be redshirted.

The competition for the starting job has already begun and Smith says he can't wait to see how it plays out.

"I am anxious to see it and I know Dana is going to have those guys battling first thing in the morning starting with breakfast," Smith laughed. "I am anxious to see who comes out on top with the starting job and I look forward to seeing one of those guys prosper in this offense because it has done wonders for quarterbacks. I think both are capable of running it."

Smith's days at WVU are over, but that does not mean his presence within the program is gone. Sure, he will not physically be there, but Smith says he intends to offer his help from a distance.

"I made sure all of those guys have my number and they are able to contact me at any time, anyone on this team," Smith stated. "I want to remain that leader, remain that guy who can help them out throughout life and just move on through it."

Smith leaves behind some big shoes to fill, not just from the records he shattered, but also in terms of leadership.

These are the school records Smith holds:

CAREER RECORDS:

PASS ATTEMPTS 1,461
PASS COMPLETIONS 985
PASSING YARDS 11,657
PASSING TOUCHDOWNS 98
PLAYS 1,741
TOTAL YARDS 12,017

SEASON RECORDS:

PASS ATTEMPTS 526
PASS COMPLETIONS 366
PASSING YARDS 4,385
PASSING TOUCHDOWNS 42
PLAYS 615
TOTAL YARDS 4,369
CONSECUTIVE COMPLETIONS 21

GAME RECORDS:

PASS ATTEMPTS 65 vs. LSU, 2011
PASS COMPLETIONS 45 vs. Baylor, 2012
PASSING YARDS 656 vs. Baylor, 2012
PASSING TOUCHDOWNS 8 vs. Baylor, 2012
PLAYS 67 vs. LSU, 2011
TOTAL YARDS 687 vs. Baylor, 2012
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