HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following statement from Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is not off base when talking about running back Ito Smith.
"If you get him the ball in space good things happen," Dawson said.
Smith, a junior, ranks third in the nation in rushing yards (540) to go along with his fair share of big plays making the opposition look silly.
"I like it when I see it," Golden Eagles head coach Jay Hopson said. "I like it a lot. He's hard to tackle one on one. You get him in space he's a special player."
That Smith is a play making machine is no shock. He tallied over 1,000 yards a year ago while splitting carries with Jalen Richard (now with the Oakland Raiders).
Dawson, in his first season at USM, said Smith puts in the work.
"(I'm) overly impressed with the guy," Dawson said during the team's Monday press conference. Everything abbot him. He's up there watching tape right now. Not only is he great with the ball in his hand but what makes him great is during the week. I mean that guy puts his work in. I appreciate that about him."
Smith also ranks second on the team in receptions with twelve offering the Golden Eagles many options.
"Ito is one of those guys," Hopson said. "He's just so well rounded. Some backs can run the ball but they can't catch. But Ito is one of those guys that can catch. He can block. He's tough. He can run."
With such a dangerous weapon in Smith, the challenge for Dawson is using him the right way.
"I can't overload him to where I'm doing too much with him," Dawson said. "I gotta keep it fine-tuned where he's doing everything in the backfield and we're handing him the ball a lot. But I gotta keep defenses off balanced with where I line him up too. Because he's our best player."