Drew Smith Ready to Step Up at Linebacker for Northwestern Wildcats

By Tyler Brett
Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

The Northwestern Wildcats are coming off a historically successful season in 2012 and will be looking to maintain their level of play in 2013. To do that, they will have to reload some key positions at defense and that is where Drew Smith is ready to step up at outside linebacker.

Smith played in every game as a redshirt freshman last season, but was mainly used on special teams. He also got some reps as a reserve linebacker and showed some excellent playmaking in his small sample size. He finished 2012 with 17 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass break up and a pair of quarterback hurries.

His head coach, Pat Fitzgerald, has nothing but rave reviews for Drew:

“He thoroughly enjoys contact. I like guys that like contact at the linebacker level. He goes to bed dreaming about knocking somebody’s lips off, and he goes around doing that.”

Fitzgerald has also said he’s looking to add a versatile player to his defense that is strong enough to play like a linebacker but athletic enough to drop into coverage like a safety.

At 205-pounds, Drew is a good athlete with good speed who plays downhill against the run and delivers “lip-knocking” hits to ball carriers. He showed an excellent ability to rush the passer last season in limited time and showed nice athleticism in pass coverage.

He will be competing with Collin Ellis this spring for the starting outside linebacker spot opposite Chi Chi Ariguzo for 2013. Drew’s motor and mentality make him the early favorite with Fitzgerald and could open the door for a huge 2013 season for the Wildcats.

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