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  03/05/22 - RB E.J. SmithSr/2024, Stanford

  Shaw admitted that Stanford's losing streak last year took a toll on the locker room. Every position group on the team needed to improve, he said, but the two priorities for the Cardinal this offseason are straightforward. "Stopping the run and running the football," Shaw said. "Those two are the biggest impetus for the changes that we've made." It was Smith, the highly touted recruit and son of NFL Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, that stole the show in the final practice of the week with his breakaway run. Shaw and offensive coordinator Tavita Pritchard confirmed that the junior is slated to take over as the top running back after the departure of Austin Jones and Nathaniel Peat. "He's got such a unique ability to make people miss in space," Pritchard said. "And the physicality of his game - I just love that he's a violent runner. Unfortunately, sometimes it's been tough for him to stay healthy. But we're confident with how he's working in the weight room and transforming his body here in the offseason that he'll be able to both utilize that running style and stay healthy for a season."

Smith rushed for 133 yards and 5.1 yards per carry last season in support of starters Jones and Peat, but the Texas-native was sidelined several times by injury. Shaw suggested that Smith would have taken on a bigger role last year after a breakout performance against Vanderbilt had he stayed healthy. In that September game, Smith scored his only touchdown of the season after an impressive cutback and hurdle into the endzone. "He was just getting going three different times when injury kept him out," Shaw said. "What he did at the end of the Vanderbilt game was really exciting, and we were ready to give him a bigger chunk of the offense." - The Stanford Daily

Sr/2024 RB E.J. SmithStanford
News Source: The Stanford Daily

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