BOWLING GREEN — When Dalvin Smith played at Glasgow High School, he transitioned from a quarterback to wide receiver. Now that he is wearing a Hilltopper uniform, the former Scottie standout is transitioning from wide receiver to tight end.
This move was based on team need and Smith’s body type and ability, said Zach Lankford, tight ends coach for Western Kentucky University, when he spoke to the Glasgow Daily Times on Tuesday during WKU Football Media Day.
“We kind of lost a couple guys through attrition, and he was a guy right there on the team,” Lankford said of Smith. “When you look at him, he’s got big, broad shoulders. He’s got a frame to put on a lot of weight.
“He plays football the right way. He’s a physical guy. He’s not scared by any means. We have decent depth now at receiver, so we thought it would be a good fit for both of us.”
Lankford said Smith is “an incredible kid.”
“He’s the type of guy, if you tell him to do something, he’s going to do it as close as how you tell him to do it as he possibly can,” the tight ends coach said. “He’s not very outspoken. He’s a quieter guy, but he’s definitely there to please. He’ll do whatever it takes.
“He’s a team player. The question got posed to him if he’d be wiling to move to tight end. He took it in stride and he was ready to do it. He’s a great kid.”
After signing with the Hilltoppers in February 2018, Smith grayshirted last season while taking classes at WKU-Glasgow, joining the team in Spring 2019.
During his senior season at GHS, Smith completed 67 passes for 920 yards and 13 touchdowns as a quarterback, rushing 65 times for 582 yards and eight touchdowns. As a receiver, he caught 20 passes for 444 yards and seven touchdowns. On defense, he collected 25 tackles and three interceptions.
“As a player, he’s a guy that has a lot of potential,” Lankford said. “He’s got a big frame. He runs really well. Catches the ball well.”
Lankford said the former Scottie has “big-play ability.”
“From the tight end position, just looking for him to keep putting on weight, develop as a blocker,” he said. “It’s something that he’s not done as much of, so he’s got to get better in that aspect — but he definitely has a lot of ability we’re trying to tap into, and he has a chance to be a really good player.”
The fact that Smith played quarterback at GHS will definitely help him change positions and it shows that he has great football IQ, Lankford said.
“No question,” he said. “I think any time you get a guy that played quarterback in high school, he’s the kind of guy with innate ability to kind of understand what’s going on.
“It shows that he has leadership skills and football intelligence.”
During WKU Football Media Day, Smith told the Daily Times that being a part of the Hilltopper football program has been a great experience.
“It’s really been like I’ve been at home,” he said. “Nothing’s really changed. Everyone’s got good team chemistry, and everyone gets along great.”
Smith said moving to tight end “has not really been that big of a transition, except more of me blocking linemen instead of DBs.”
“It’s not that big of a transition,” he said. “I’m still just running routes like I was at receiver.”
First-year head coach Tyson Helton said he really likes “our tight end room” during WKU Football Media Day.
“There’s several guys in there that can help us,” Helton said, adding that he wants his tight ends to be able to play with their hand on the ground, “but also play in space” and “be out there in a receiver-type position as well.”
“Our tight ends need to be multiple in the sense of moving them around.”
Smith said playing football at GHS definitely prepared him for college football.
“(GHS football coach Jeff Garmon) does a good job at trying to get everyone ready for the next level,” Smith said. “He tries to get everybody to the next level, as many people as he can. He knows how important it is to everyone … and he just does a good job at it.”
As far as short-term goals, Smith said he wants to become a starter for the Hilltoppers, with a long-term goal of playing on Sundays in the NFL.
When asked what advice he would give to young athletes who want to play at the next level, Smith said to “keep your grades up.”
The former Scottie also wanted to tell current GHS football players to “keep working hard throughout the summer.”
“All the hard work throughout the summer will pay off.”