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OU missed out by not recruiting Smith

John Helsley Modified: September 17, 2007 at 12:08 am •  Published: September 17, 2007
Paul Smith walked off Owen Field in 2005, having nearly directed a Tulsa upset of Oklahoma. And having clearly made a point.

The Sooners missed in not recruiting him.

In retrospect, it's even easier to recognize now, not due to any deficiency at OU, but because of his role in enhancing Tulsa's status on the national scene.

Here's the deal: Smith is the state's best college quarterback, a point punctuated in TU's wild 55-47 win over BYU late Saturday night, when he threw for 454 yards and five touchdowns — both career bests.

And wouldn't he like to remind OU one more time, face-to-face, with the Sooners due in Tulsa for a Friday night pairing of unbeatens.

Oh, projecting some fairy tale upset is pure folly. The Sooners roll into T-Town amid mounting momentum, facing a leaky Golden Hurricane defense and claiming superior talent on TU at almost every position.

Quarterback being an exception. And that gives TU a gunslinger's chance to at least make it exciting.

Smith is better now — worlds better as a savvy senior in the Hurricane offense — than he was as a sophomore, completing 24 of 36 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown on the 18th-ranked Sooners.

That was Smith's first full game as a starter, and he had the Hurricane in the hunt, down only 17-15 in the closing minutes before the Sooners struck for two late scores.

OU emerged OK from the decision to pass on Smith, claiming a Big 12 championship a year ago; now claiming one of the nation's hot young QBs in freshman Sam Bradford.

But Smith might have taken the Sooners to even greater heights a year ago. And he would have been the starter — hands down — and a veteran leader for this Sooner squad.

As sharp as young Sam Bradford has been for the Sooners, he's not at Smith's level, not yet.

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