The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

September 17, 2012

Proud, but humble

Mountaineers’ Smith not caught up in record books

If the West Virginia University sports information department ever printed a football record book with pages on WVU’s top performances, game and careers — complete with a glossy gold-and-blue cover — the photo for the front would be obvious.

It would have to be one of quarterback Geno Smith gunning the football down the field to an open receiver. After all, Smith’s name would be all over the pages inside.

The Mountaineers’ senior quarterback holds the WVU single-game records for pass attempts (65 vs. LSU in 2011), pass completions (38 vs. LSU in 2011), passing yards (463 vs. LSU in 2011), passing touchdowns (6 vs. Clemson in 2012) and total yards (468 vs LSU in 2011).

When it comes to season records, he’s on top in pass attempts (526 in 2011), pass completions (346 in 2011), passing yards (4,385 in 2011) and passing touchdowns (31 in 2011).

Then there are career numbers. Smith, who still has as many as 11 games left to play, is already WVU’s all-time leader in pass completions (685), passing yards (8,191) and passing touchdowns (65).

Basically if it’s a record a quarterback can hold — aside from number of times sacked and number of interceptions — Smith probably has it.

But while many college athletes would have those numbers highlighted and posted in their locker, on their bedroom wall and on their Facebook timeline, they seem to mean very little to the senior from Miami’s Miramar High School.

When Smith passed Marc Bulger on the career passing touchdowns list with a five-touchdown performance against Marshall, his reaction wasn’t exactly noteworthy.

“I’m honored and glad I’ve been able to put up some good numbers,” said the senior, who is still racking up statistics that will be hard for future quarterbacks to ever track down. “But we still have a lot more to go.”

When he passed Bulger in passing yardage Saturday against James Madison, the reaction was much the same.

“I’m pretty sure there will be a lot more good quarterbacks that will come through here and shatter all my records,” he said. “Which is why I could care less about them. It’s good to know that I’ve been productive over my college career, but to say it actually means something or holds value to me would be a lie.”

Smith does, however, realize the company among which he’s standing, especially the man he passed on most of the lists. Bulger not only had a great career with the Mountaineers, but he also went on to a 10-year NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Baltimore Ravens. He threw for 22,814 yards, made to NFL Pro Bowls and was the MVP of the 2003 Pro Bowl.

“I watched Bulger with the Rams when he filled in for Kurt Warner and took over that spot,” said Smith, who has his own dreams of playing professional football. “I’ve also watched tape on him here, back in ’97 and ’98. He was one of the most elite quarterbacks. He was a small guy with a small frame, but he could throw the ball.”

Smith is also aware of the tradition of Mountaineer quarterbacks and the success they’ve found after their careers both in football and elsewhere.

“It means a lot to be mentioned with (Bulger) as well as guys like Oliver Luck (who quarterbacked the Mountaineers from 1979 through 1981 and is now the WVU athletic director) and Joe Manchin (who played quarterback for WVU in 1966 and 1967 and went on to become the state’s governor and a U.S. Senator), who have done great things for the program and represented it well,” said Smith. “It’s good that I can carry the torch for those guys.

“I pretty much met all those guys. I met Major Harris, and Pat White’s a guy I spent some time with. Jarrett Brown is one of my good friends, and those guys always come back. That’s the great thing about West Virginia. Guys always come back and support the team.”

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