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Former QB Jeff Smith Emerging as a Star at WR

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After a spring and summer of hard work, Jeff Smith looks like he might be the missing piece for Boston College's passing game.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Smith is making the most of his opportunities.

After quarterback Patrick Towles decided to transfer into Boston College from Kentucky for his fifth season, Smith knew he'd have to change positions if he wanted to make an impact for Boston College this year. When coaches asked him to switch to wide receiver before spring practices, the now-sophomore was a bit apprehensive. But, after just the second game of the 2016 season, it appears to have been the right choice for everybody.

"Once Pat came here, I spoke with coach, and (he said) my speed had to be on the field," Smith said. "I was down to do that for the team… It definitely wasn't a simple choice. For the first couple of weeks it was kind of tough. I got over it, and it's definitely working now."

Smith showed potential in BC's opener in Dublin against Georgia Tech, grabbing three balls, but only for 26 yards. The speedster was mostly used on underneath routes and pop passes, but showed the ability to run after the catch on a second quarter 3rd and 11, when he snatched a pass on a crossing route, then sprinted for 14 yards and a first down.

Saturday against UMass, we saw another way Smith can impact the game- As a downfield threat.

Twice Towles looked for Smith in the end zone from over 35 yards out, and twice Smith came down with the ball for six, finishing the day with a game-high 5 catches for 98 yards to go with those two scores. Those two catches showed UMass that the Eagles weren't afraid to push the ball down field, and forced the Minutemen to play with two high safeties for much of the rest of the game.

Boston College is hoping Smith can consistently bring that element to its offense, as the defenses only get tougher from here, especially this week at Virginia Tech, a program long known for taking away the run and forcing opposing offenses to win through the air.

For Smith's part, the transition hasn't been an easy one, but he has played receiver before in high school. On top of that, he believes his experience as a quarterback in coach Steve Addazio's system has afforded him a unique perspective that most wideouts don't have.

"(Playing quarterback) definitely helps, because you kind of have two view points," Smith said. "I know all the different coverages and things like that. I have a view of what Pat and Darius (Wade) want to see (against each coverage), so that helps."

Smith's awareness and hard work have not been lost on Towles, who believes the Eagles now have the weapons to consistently move the ball through the air. The current quarterback and the former quarterback seemed to have some real chemistry Saturday at Gillette Stadium, and Towles thinks they're only going to get better from here.

"(Smith)'s work ethic is incredible," Towles said."In the summer he put a lot of work in, and he's worked his rear-end off to get better. He's always asking me questions about how he can get more open, and how to run certain routes. It showed on Saturday, and it's going to continue to show the rest of the season."

"(Pat and I) got a lot of work in over the summer," Smith added. "We've definitely got some chemistry, but we've been focusing on our passing game a lot as a group of receivers, and Pat's been working hard for all of us."

Boston College kicks off in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech Saturday at 3:30 pm, as the Eagles look to snap a nine-game ACC losing streak, and a seven-game losing streak outside of their home state. Boston College's last win outside the Commonwealth? At Virginia Tech in November of 2014.