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December 09, 1983 - Image 19

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-12-09
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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Page 12- TheMehigan Daily --,Friday, December 9, 1983-
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Smith
By CHUCK JAFFE
Three days after beating Ohio State,
Michigan quarterback Steve Smith
relaxed and thought about losing to the
Buckeyes.
"Maybe we should have lost to Ohio
State," he said. "All I know about
Auburn is that they have big huge
people on the defensive front who can
run. It's comforting to know that there
is a guy across the line of scrimmage
from you who weighs 275 pounds and
can run as fast as you can. It hurts
already. I'm just thrilled."
BUT REGARDLESS of the size or
speed of Michigan's bowl opponent,
Smith would not trade the victory over
Ohio State for anything. The 24-21
triumph ended two years of frustration
against the Buckeyes, and now the
senior quarterback can relax in his role
as Michigan's most recognizable
athlete.
Enjoyment, however, has not always
been a part of Smith's career. Until
defeating the Buckeyes, Smith was
remeberedtmore forthestwo losses to
OSU and the 1981 season-opening loss to
Wisconsin than for winning a bowl
game or becoming Michigan's all-time
leading passer.
Thefans'reactions to those losses,
and to Smith's career in general, forced
him to become a private person - open
and vulnerable in the media room, but
reclusive on campus. Now, with just
one game remaining in his collegiate
career, Smith is anxious to become a
"normal" person again.
"IT'S TOUGH to be Steve Smith,"
the 6-0, 194-pounder said. "People
single you out, they recognize your
face. As soon as they recognize you,
they immediately start evaluating you
and looking for bad things. That has
kept me off campus this year.'
"Sometimes I wish I was like a nor-
mal college student," he added. "You'd
really like to do some of that stuff but you
can't, because you don't want to be
around crowds. The worst thing in the
world is when you have to be someplace
and can't be yourself."
But Smith's pre-college days were
hardly that of the average student
either. One morning during his
sophomore year in high school, Smith
was awakened at 5:30 a.m. and told that
his father had beenhkilled in an
automobile accident. The death of his
39-year-old father spurred Smith to
greater athletic achievement, and
evetually helped lead him to Michigan.
"MY FATHER'S death helped me as
far as motivating myself," the Grand
Blanc native said. "I've seen people
where one of their parents died and
they have given up sports. They say,
I've got no one to push me. My dad was
my supporter. I'm not even going to

winds,
try.' They just seemed to deteriorate as
athletes. I saw it happen to a friend and,
when my father died, I swore it would not
happen to me."
Smith's increased motivation helped
him compelte an illustrious high school
career. He passed for 1,926 yards and 26
touchdowns his senior year and was
recruited heavily by most of the coun-
try's major colleges. Smith said he was
ready to sign a letter of intent with Ten-
nessee, but changed his mind to stay
closer to home.
"I almost made the decision to go to
Tennessee, but my mom was a little up-
set, so I decided to stay around home,"
Smith said. "Whey my father died, she
had to take over as both a father and a
mother. That's been really important to
me. She's helped me out whenever
things were going bad or when no one
else was around."

Cheers,
boos,
0e
mnjuaries,
celebrations

4 l1 X 9

WP IVI
coaches told me to do and I've been
booed for it. Honestly, you're not out
there to lose.
"At times I felt some pressure,"
Smith added. "I felt pressure to get the
ball to Anthony (Carter) because he
was an All-American receiver, and I
felt that Butch (Woolfolk) needed to
carry the ball, and sometimes you don't
look at yourself as a needed role. Then,
all of a sudden, you lose and everyone's
talking about how you lost the game,
how you're the one, you're the man.
'When Smith rolls, Michigan rolls.
When Smith doesn't, Michigan loses.
"And there you are looking at it and
saying 'Here's Butch Woolfolk, here's
Anthony Carter - these are the guys
who are supposed to be winning games.
Not me, I'm just a little punk
sophomore out here calling signals.' "

'It's tough to be Steve Smith. People
single you out, they recognize your face.
As soon as they recognize you they im-
mediately start evaluating you and
looking for bad things. That has kept me
off campus this year.'
- Steve Smith

'Ar

kept him
against Wa
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seven gam
"I didn't
to last or n
Smith said
three or foi
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happen. I p
it hurt my g
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against Oh
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two previ
and he ca
Auburn ga
"This is
ever playe
got a chan
that we are
not ten, nc
team. If A
them, ther
us."
WHEN T
Michiganr
about Smi
the Wolver:
offense, pa
pts, pass
play. Smit
touchdown
the all-time
Those r
quality pla
ce to pla,
head coac
that Smith
team, and
be waiting
"If some
shot - if
USFL," Sn
football, I'
but it's ha
when you
around yoi
SMITH V
ready for
business, h
past at Mic
"I don't
career her
tell you tha
they first
walked o
quarterbac
with nothir
"I'd like
respect of
wanted,"
to see winr
ter what
says, no on

We've got plenty of rooms
on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
for Wolverine fans.
We're only sixty miles
from New Orleans. Special
bus transportation is avail-
able, so you don't have to
worry about getting to the
Superdome and back. And
a room here won't cost you
an arm and a leg.
You'll have a great time
on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
We've got twenty-six miles
of sugar-white beaches.
Fresh seafood. Great golf
courses. And New Year's
Eve parties that last till
dawn.
So combine your Sugar

Bowl holiday with a vacation
on the Mississippi Gulf
Coast.
We're warming up a
welcome just for you.
Mississippi
Guf oast
For information on rooms and
transiortation, call:
601 rr388-8000
or contact your travel agent.

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THAT HELP would become
especially important during Smith's
sophomore year at Michigan, when he
took over the starting quarterback job.
Although Smith will finish his career as
the leader in almost every Michigan
passing category, his tenure as signal-
caller has been an emotional roller-
coaster full of cheers, boos, injuries and
celebrations.
His first assignment was not,
however, one of the high points, as
Smith completed just three of 18 passes
with three interceptions in a 21-14 loss
to Wisconsin. Entering the game,
Michigan had been the pre-season
favorite to win the national champion-
ship.
The Michigan fans disliked Smith's
debut so much that he was showered
with boos after each incomplete pass
for the rest of the season. Despite
finishing atop the conference in passing
efficiency and winning the Bluebonnet
Bowl over UCLA, the fans apparently
blamed Smith for losing a shot at a
national championship.
"IT'S NOT A real good feeling when
all those people boo," Smith said of the
Michigan Stadium fans. "People miss
the concept of football sometimes. A lot
fo them don't understand the game -
they just understand who wins and
loses. I've done exactly what the

SMITH'S PLAY improved steadily
through the rest of the 1981 season, and
he carried the improvement into his
junior campaign. Despite two early-
season defeats and Smith's second loss
to Ohio State, the Wolverines won the
Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose
Bowl.
There, however, Smith's good fortune
ended as he suffered a separated
shoulder after a hit by UCLA's Don
Rogers on an eight-yard run. The injury
stopped Smith for the rest of the day
and for much of the spring.
"I pushed myself off the ground with
both arms and told the trainers I was all
right," Smith said. "About three steps
before I was off the field I realized I
couldn't lift my arm. Then they took my
pads off and I looked and saw that my
bone was sticking up from my shoulder
about two inches. I knew I was in
trouble."
SMITH'S problems persisted through
spring practice - during which he had
to learn how to throw a football again.
After watching his passes "go two yar-
ds then fall," Smith improved his range
of motion and strength until he was
completely healthy for the start of fall
practice.
But during two-a-day sessions, Smith
reinjured the shoulder, tearing the
rotator cuff and muscles. The injury

! it~ tre

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