Monday, September 09, 2013

Linebacking instincts have served Yawin Smallwood

In the process of doing a feature on UConn star linebacker Yawin Smallood I ran across some highlight videos on YouTube during his days at Doherty High in Worcester, Mass. While there were clips of him hitting opposing running backs and quarterbacks but he also ripped through opposing defenses as an option quarterback.

Smallwood had three 150-yard rushing games as a senior and touchdown passes of 54 and 67 yards during his junior season.

“It was definitely fun. I feel like that was where I got my leadership role from,” Smallwood said. “I think that has helped me out on the defensive side and I would love to play it again if I have a chance.”

As much as Smallwood enjoyed playing quarterback, he always considered himself to be a linebacker first.

“I like making the big hits and stuff like that,” Smallwood said. “I think defense just fits me, guys are intense, fired up and I just love that.“I always knew I was going to play defense because of my size and I was always ready for that role.”

With Lawrence Wilson, Sio Moore and Scott Lutrus manning the linebacking positions, Smallwood redshirted in 2010. Following the graduation of Wilson and Lutrus, Smallwood worked his way into the starting lineup in 2011. Foreshadowing things to come, Smallwood made the tackle on the Huskies’ first defensive play. He finished second on the team with 94 tackles. During the 2012 season despite playing on a team featuring three players who would be taken in the third round and another who went in the fourth round, Smallwood led the Huskies with 120 tackles. The impressive sophomore season was highlighted by back to back 14-tackle games against North Carolina State and Maryland. Perhaps even more noteworthy than making at least 10 tackles nine times in 25 career starts is that Smallwood has five tackles or more in every game he has played.

“Some people are just born to be a football player and I really think Yawin was born to be a football player,” UConn sophomore linebacker Graham Stewart. “He has unreal instincts and he is always around the ball and that is something you can’t always teach and he has the intangibles that you just can’t teach.”



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