Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith was such a well-kept secret in 2008 that even he didn't know he'd be returning kicks for the Terps.
"To be honest, they never even let me try it in camp," he said. "My first time was in a game. I never did it in practices or scrimmages or anything else. ... It came up on me a little quick."
And Smith snuck up quickly on a few ACC opponents.
As a freshman, Smith set an ACC single-season record for kickoff return yardage, returning 41 kickoffs for a total of 1,089 yards. He fittingly broke the record in Maryland's bowl game when he ran a kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown against Nevada. Coach Ralph Friedgen's expectations are high for the Terps' return game again this year, and Smith is a major reason why.
"As a punt returner, he's a big guy that runs North-South and is very fast, so if he gets a step, he's gonna go," Friedgen said. "He's just a remarkable kid. I've got some really great kids in this program, and he's one of them. He comes every day with a smile on his face, he works as hard as he possibly could, he's a good student. He's one of the leaders, he's on our Terrapin Council, so he's very well-respected because of who he is as an individual. I think he's going to be a very good football player, but more important I think he's going to be very successful in life."
Smith seems to have picked up right where he left off. In last weekend's scrimmage, Smith had 210 all-purpose yards, including a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
As a receiver, Friedgen said he is still looking for Smith to make more plays when the opportunity is there. Adrian Cannon has been pushing Smith this spring for the starting job, and it's a position worth watching in Saturday's 3:30 p.m. spring game in Byrd Stadium. Smith finished 2008 with 24 receptions for 336 yards -- numbers which make him the leading returning receiver.
"This spring was alright," he said. "I had an average spring. I got to grow a lot as a receiver. I got better in a lot of different areas - route running, understanding the game. I think that's going to help us along."
The difference this year, though, is that he's no longer a secret.