The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

September 7, 2011

Corey Smith off to strong start for Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN — Corey Smith is off to a strong start as West Virginia’s punter and kickoff man.

He averaged 50 yards in having to punt only twice (55 and 45 yards) in the weather-shortened 34-13 season opener against Marshall. He also had an average of 65.3 yards for six kickoffs.

Smith, a 5-foot-11 and 198-pound junior from Inwood, W.Va., had one of his punts land inside the Thundering Herd’s 20-yard line.

He spent a year at Alabama, seeing limited action as a kicker and punter, before transferring to WVU.

Smith is the starter for 2011. As the starting KO man last season, he averaged 62.2 yards for 64 attempts.

Eight were touchbacks in 2010.

“The combination has been good for me,” Smith said. “We keep things light in practice.

“Punting is important in every game. A kick could decide a game. I could be that close some time. You have to keep working hard every week. No one has a position guaranteed. You can’t let up week to week.”

Smith will be ready in Saturday’s home game against Norfolk State to pick up where he left off Sunday.

While he doesn’t think anyone is guaranteed a starting position, he believes as long as a player performs well he can retain his job.

“I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well,” Smith noted. “I hope to continue that the rest of the season.”

He is admittedly comfortable with some minor adjustments that he has made in both his punting and kickoffs.

Smith remains backup to junior Tyler Bitancurt, the No. 1 kicker for the field goals and extra points.

“We all get along well together,” he said of snappers and holders, as well as kickers.

Smith earned all-state honors at Musselman High School as both kicker and punter. He played in the 2010 NYC All-World Gridiron Classic.

He is a member of the Big East Academic All-Star Team. His major is sports management.

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