This season, Smith is running with authority and using his new size to become a more powerful runner. Through a dozen preseason practices, Smith feels the difference.
"Last year, I wasn't making the certain types of plays that I'm making now," said Smith. "I can shove off the first linebacker and fend him with my body instead of trying to juke him out. I have both options now."
Jay Hooten, Northwestern's new strength and conditioning coach, put in a new workout regiment which has the team in top condition. Smith took advantage of the offseason and added to his arsenal.
"He's definitely bigger than he was (last year)," NU offensive coordinator Mick McCall said of Smith. "All those freshmen that came in a year ago are a little bit bigger than they were before. They've been through a year of weight training and have gotten stronger and faster. He's doing a good job. He's running hard and he's happy to be a part of our running game."
During the offseason, Smith split time working on speed and agility drills and adding size. Hooten made Wednesday an optional day for workouts, but Smith was in the weight room each day working on conditioning drills.
Smith was already known as a speed running back, but now has a new dimension in his game.
"It helped me get faster, stronger, and helped me on the field," Smith said of his offseason.
Growing up just a short drive from Oakland, Smith is a lifelong Raiders fan and has always admired the running ability of their running back, Darren McFadden. With added size, Smith hopes he can resemble McFadden's running abilities.
"That was my goal putting on the size, so I could be able to run people over and use my speed along with that," he said.
Smith averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a freshman and nicely complimented starting running back Mike Trumpy. This season, he will battle for playing time in a crowded and talented backfield. Fortunately for Smith, he'll be running with some extra size and speed
"I'm definitely happy," he said. "I'm just trying to push even more."