Out of the shadows -Shepherd's Dalevon Smith comes into his own

October 13, 2000

Out of the shadows -Shepherd's Dalevon Smith comes into his own

By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - For four years, Damian Beane was a monument to Shepherd College football - Mount Rush-more.

Beane put his face on the top of the statistical mountain four times, improving his hold each season. He led the Rams to two consecutive playoff appearances and three West Virginia Conference championships while setting 13 school records, including the all-time rushing mark.

In most cases, monuments cast huge shadows. Everywhere, that is, except at Ram Stadium, where Dalevon Smith refuses to stay in the shade.

If Beane was a monument, Smith has become the landmark of the Rams' running game, busting out of the shadows to get his own time in the sun.


"Basically, I want us to go out and tear up our league," Smith said. "I want them to know when it's over who they had to stop. My goal is to get 3,000 yards, but I'll settle for 2,500."

Smith is confident, bordering on cocky; extroverted, bordering on brash, on the field. But he lets his running do the talking, as he's presently sixth in the nation in Division II rushing with 736 yards, a 147.2 per game average through five games.

He's done it all not to make everyone forget Beane, but to enhance his accomplishments by terrorizing opponents with his own irrepressible energy.

"Me and Beane have two different styles. He's more shifty. I'm speed," Smith said. "I've taken over, but we are still putting up big numbers in the running game."

Those numbers aren't on the Beane counting level, but they have given the Rams an early-season identity as a balanced attack dictated by the running game.

"They are two completely different runners," Shepherd coach Monte Cater said. "Beans was a jitterbug guy with a lot of balance. People gave him a hard time, saying he wasn't fast, but he was quick in limited spaces and was tough to tackle.

"Dalevon is more of a sprinter with the power to run over a tackle. He's power through the holes with quickness and then he can outrun the defense."

The night-and-day styles of Beane and Smith were devastating to opponents when Shepherd made its run to the playoffs last season.

Beane used his obligatory 100-yard game to ignite some big numbers and scoring by the Shepherd offense. Then Smith, a relative unknown in the area after transferring in from Merced (Calif.) Junior College, took the field and blew up.

The then-backup rushed for four consecutive 100-yard games, including a mind-boggling 228 yards in just over a quarter against Fairmont State, today's opponent at new Ram Stadium, including scoring runs of 78 and a then-school record 92 yards.

"I give all the credit to Beane," Smith is quick to say. "Damian could squat 600 pounds. He would go out there and wear defenses down for three quarters. By the time I got out there, I was just trying to add the exclamation point. I try to put the exclamation point on everything.

"It was hard not starting after starting the two years at my junior college in California. But I knew Beane was the man and I was just supposed to fill in. But when Beane started engineering some blowouts, I got the chance to play and got some time to get ready for this season. It gave me the chance to show some things. "

Now Smith is out of the shadow, putting on a show of his own. After rushing for 670 yards on 66 carries in 1999 - a 10.2-yard average in eight games - he started the 2000 season with back-to-back 200-yard games. He led the nation in rushing through the first three weeks of the season.

"Anytime you recruit a junior college transfer, you want him to contribute immediately," Cater said. "Smith wasn't in the starring role last season, but we saw what he could do. You held your breath because you knew how exciting it was to watch Beans run. With Dalevon, he can break it at any time. That's exciting and it's the kind of home run that you look forward to put together with the passing attack."

Smith's explosiveness isn't restricted to the playing field. He's one of the more entertaining characters in local football with his rapid fire responses to questions.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> On punctuating a game as a starter - "This year, my exclamation point comes when I get into the secondary and punish the defensive backs. Linebackers beat me up for most of the game. I like it when I can get past them and beat up on someone my own size."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> On coming to play in a small town in West Virginia after living in California - " I got here because a friend of mine who came here liked it. He told me to call Coach Cater and see what he could do. Coach told me that I should send some film and they'd look. He didn't know what he was getting. I sent the film and prayed. They gave me money for books and school; that's all I needed."

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