CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Derrick Smith has been waiting for more than a year after transferring from Miami last August, now the Illini safety is finally ready to take the field. And he’s not holding back any expectations of what his impact can be.
“I feel like I’m going to bring a big impact, wherever I’m needed at,” Smith said during a media Zoom call on Tuesday.
Smith originally came to Champaign as a linebacker but made the switch to safety heading into this season. The 6-foot-2, 220 pound Jacksonville, Florida native played defensive back for the Hurricanes, playing in 25 games as a true freshmen and sophomore.
“I like everything about what he’s done,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said. “He’s got good size, good movement, he’s a hitter. Can’t wait to get on the pads and see where he is now.”
“I like being around the ball so they figured safety was the best position for me because of my athleticism,” said Smith. “I can play either or, it don’t really matter to me. If I’m around the ball, I feel like I’m going to make a big impact.”
Smith will factor into the two-deep for the Illini, along with Sydney Brown, Tony Adams and Quan Martin at safety.
“We go out there and we compete everyday and I show everyday what I bring and what I have to the table,” Smith said. “I’ve been waiting a little minute for this, and I feel like I haven’t really played for real since high school. I played a little bit at Miami, but I haven’t played for real since high school. I feel like I’ll have the opportunity come October 24th to show what I got, and just ready to show the world.”