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Published: Friday, 12/29/2006

Trojan receivers Jarrett, Smith are super

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett is college football's most dangerous receiver in the minds of some observers. USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett is college football's most dangerous receiver in the minds of some observers.
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PASADENA, Calif. - They are known to insiders as Batman and Robin, and it isn't hard to tell which is which.

One is big and tall and acrobatic and looks as if he started shaving during the Bush Administration. The first Bush.

The other is slender and short and baby-faced.

Batman and Robin, indeed.

But both of Southern California's wide receivers must look like Supermen to the Michigan defensive unit that is tasked with slowing their attack in Monday's Rose Bowl.

Dwayne Jarrett is probably the most dangerous receiver in college football when a play breaks down and the quarterback starts to freelance.

Steve Smith is the perfect runner of routes, crisp, precise, and utterly dependable.

"I take pride in that," Smith said. "Dwayne's the big-play guy who makes all the dramatic catches. I feel I'm the reliable receiver who can get open on any play."

Smith is a 6-foot, 200-pound senior who speaks softly and carries a big stick.

Jarrett, who is expected to forgo his senior year for the NFL draft, where he could possibly be the first receiver selected, is 6-foot-5 "and can jump out of the gym," said USC quarterback John David Booty.

And speaking softly isn't part of his arsenal.

The first thing Jarrett wants you to know is that Smith, because of the constant comparison of the two, is vastly under-rated.

The second thing he'll tell you is that he, Jarrett, can't be rated too highly.

"I think I'm definitely one of the top players in the country," Jarrett said. "I can do a little bit of everything. It's rare to see a guy use his body the way I do. I played basketball. I know how to box a defender out and adjust to the ball. Some big guys can't do that. It's one of my attributes.

"But Batman and Robin are a team. Steve is a top receiver, definitely underestimated. He's as good as me, just a smaller version. He's like my brother. We definitely complement each other."

Jarrett, recently named an All-American for the second straight year, caught 59 passes for 810 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing one game and half of another with a shoulder injury.

He has 205 catches during his career and three more against Michigan would make him the Trojans' all-time leader. His 39 career TD catches are a Pac-10 record.

Statistically, Smith had an even better season. He caught 64 passes for 975 yards and 8 TDs. He was voted USC's most valuable player by his teammates.

USC's Steve Smith is lauded for his discipline in executing pass routes. USC's Steve Smith is lauded for his discipline in executing pass routes.
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"Steve is fast and he's a great route runner," Booty said. "He always finds a spot and gets open. But when a play breaks down, Dwayne is the first guy I look for. I try to find him and give him something he'll have a chance to catch. He does the rest. He's amazing."

Leon Hall, Michigan's senior cornerback and an All-American in his own right, has certainly noticed.

"If Jarrett gets between the ball and the defender, he'll catch it 100 percent of the time," Hall said. "He can go up and get the ball. He goes out with his hands very well, which makes it even tougher. People keep asking me to compare Ohio State and USC's receivers. There are some similarities, but Ohio State doesn't have a Dwayne Jarrett-type."

USC will, however, have a good idea of what worked for Ohio State en route to 316 passing yards - the Buckeyes had 503 total yards - in a recent win over Michigan.

"I assume they watched the game," Hall said dryly.

They did. In fact, Jarrett is still watching it on a daily basis.

"Yeah, the film shows that [Michigan's defense] can definitely be exposed," he said. "Ohio State stretched the field and we can do that and work the open spaces. We still have to execute our plays, but we're going to be pretty confident."

Confident? Or cocky?

It doesn't much matter when you're driving the Batmobile.



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