Drew Smith, Northwestern Wildcats football, No. 55

This is former UAlbany running back Drew Smith. - Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Drew Smith likes to hit. He could be a starting linebacker in arguably the strongest linebacker corps Northwestern has ever had without a player named "Pat Fitzgerald" in it.

Ohhhhhhh, lordie. There's pretty much a player every day from now until football. I am gonna need some breaks.

Anyway, today's guy is Drew Smith,a 6'1, 205-pound sophomore linebacker who brings the lumber when it comes to hitting guys, which is nice. He's not guaranteed a starting spot, but there's a chance he gets one in what should be one of the strongest linebacker corps in Northwestern's history.

Origin myth

Smith is a from the Nasty 'Nati, as I've heard real, totally-being-serious Cincinnati residents refer to their city. He went to Colerain, where he was the defensive MVP of a squad that went 10-0 in the regular season his senior year, leading his conference with 10 sacks. He'd pick up three stars, ranking as the No. 79 outside linebacker in the nation according to 247's composite, and got some big boy offers: Stanford, Minnesota, and the hometown squad Cincinnati alongside a lot of MAC. He'd choose NU in the weeks before signing day.

At Northwestern

Smith redshirted as a freshman, but was a decent contributor as a redshirt freshman last year, backing up Chi Chi Ariguzo at strongside linebacker. He had 17 tackles, three for loss, including two sacks, and was a prominent contributor against Illinois after Damien Proby picked up some dings.

Career highlight

First off, apologies to the offensive linemen, for whom I could not come up with career highlights. Shrug emoticon.

But anyway: against Michigan State, Northwestern really never had a comfortable lead, all the way down to the wire. A Jeff Budzien figgie made the score 23-20 with half a quarter left, but Michigan State's ensuing drive quickly meandered down the field. After six plays taking about three minutes off the clock, they were already facing a first-and-ten at Northwestern's 44-yard line, almost in range of a game-tying field goal with the potential to win.

Then Smith stepped up. A play action was supposed to fool NU's rushers, but Smith and Dean Lowry never hesitated. A chip block from Le'Veon Bell would take Lowry out of the play, but Smith kept coming, forcing Andrew Maxwell to step up in the pocket to avoid pressure, then spiralling him to the ground for a seven-yard sack. There were open receivers downfield and MSU could have picked up yardage to tie or win the game, but Smith's pressure kept the throw from getting off, and the ack brought up second-and-17. Two plays later, MSU would from their own 42-yard line, and a few minutes later, NU would win.

Anagram of choice

Discovering the Wildcats true inner selves through spelling

Drew Smith, anagrammed, is

WEDS MIRTH

This could mean somebody getting married to mirth, or could just be an abbreviation new night for drinking on a various night of the week, to go along with Thirsty Thursday, Sunday Funday and... I dunno, Keg Mondays? (RIP.) Although it doesn't have any sort of ring to it. My point is, its really tough to come up with anagrams for Drew Smith.

Relevant musical selection

"Smoke and Mirrors", Drew Smith

Drew Smith is a Canadian singer-songwriter who made a bit of a viral buzz for "outsourcing" production of one of his music videos to Bangalore. Not my style, but maybe some of you will enjoy, and the video is beautifully done.

How he can help

Let's sum it up in a quotable, from Pat Fitzgerald, and Smith's response to that quotable:

- Fitz on Drew Smith: "He thoroughly enjoys contact. I like guys that like contact at the linebacker level. He goes to bed dreaming about knocking somebody's lips off, and he goes around doing that."

- Smith on being a big hitter: "That's always been a part of my personality. Everybody knows that's what I do. I like to hit people."

Smith has pop. You can see from the way he hits people that he's one of the bigger hitters on the squad, and you like that type of hit stick ability from your strongside linebacker, capable of doling out punishment to opposing running backs sneaking in behind a pair of blockers. He seems to have the requisite athleticism to fill the position as well.

Depth chart projection

Smith is essentially in open competition for the lone linebacker spot Northwestern has: weakside linebacker David Nwabuisi graduated, last year's strongside linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo moved over to fill that spot, and now strongside linebacker is open. The other main player is Collin Ellis, who started there two years ago before injuries last year. Right now, we're giving the nod to Ellis based on past experience, but Smith is too talented to keep off the field, so even if he misses out on the spot, he'll be playing quite a bit. And he could beat Ellis for the position, too, mind you.

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