MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dreamius Smith dashed 45 yards against Iowa State, but couldn’t make the final 11 before being shoved out of bounds.
It was a sore reminder that some of his giddy-up was gone, and he fully realized why.
“Toward the end of the year I just started gaining weight and felt slower,” said Smith, whose yards per carry dipped from 5.8 in September to 4.5 in October to 4.3 in November.
The junior college transfer, so electric in ripping off a 75-yard touchdown at Oklahoma in Week 2, saw his weight climb from 215 pounds on opening day to 228 by season’s end. He wasn’t bulking up by design and wasn’t accustomed to packing on pounds during a span when most players are struggling to maintain mass.
“To gain weight during the season, it was shocking to me,” he said. “I couldn’t get my knees up, and I couldn’t do what I used to do. I mean, 228. I’ve never carried that weight.”
The Iowa State run, in particular, revealed the dreaded impact. It was the kind of play Smith should have scored on, and the kind he said “I would’ve scored on” earlier in the season.
Talking to reporters Friday on the second day of preseason camp, Smith recalled the lessons and mixed results of his first FBS season. After that dazzling run through the Sooners secondary, he missed a block on a blitzer that led to a sack-fumble.
He compiled 494 yards and five rushing touchdowns but averaged fewer than six carries during the final four games.
Now, according to the tentative depth chart, Smith is the leader in a deep group of running backs vying to replace NFL third-round pick Charles Sims. With so much talent in the backfield, Smith knows position coach JaJaun Seider, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and head coach Dana Holgorsen will be monitoring reps closely.
By the time the season opener arrives against Alabama, the margin between first- and fourth-string could be thin.
“They’re going to look at everything—blocking, running the ball, what are you doing when the ball’s not in your hand,” Smith said.
And by the time the season winds down, Smith plans to be monitoring his body more closely.
“This time I’ve got a better mindset,” he said, “knowing what I have to do to keep my weight down.”