Back in the saddle
Smoker makes most of comeback, is named No. 1 QB
Posted: Monday August 18, 2003 6:21PM; Updated: Monday August 18, 2003 6:21PM
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- One week after being reinstated to Michigan State's football team, Jeff Smoker is its No. 1 quarterback.
Smoker has apparently made the most of his opportunity to compete for starting quarterback in the eyes of Spartan coach John L. Smith.
"I don't need to come out and name him the starter, just like I don't need to name the starter at right guard," Smith said Monday. "But Jeff Smoker is No. 1 at quarterback right now on our depth chart. So, if that means I just named him the starter, then I named him."
Michigan State opens the season on Aug. 30 at home against Western Michigan.
Smoker was suspended for the final five games of last season because of a substance-abuse problem. His family announced he was seeking treatment. Smoker has said he is not in an inpatient program, but added that his recovery is ongoing and he has changed his lifestyle.
Reinstatement gave Smoker a chance to compete to be a starter, a privilege he didn't have while practicing in preseason camp and during spring drills. The quarterback was 11-of-19 for 194 yards and four touchdowns during a scrimmage on Saturday. His first three series all resulted in scoring passes.
"Clearly, he's our No. 1 guy," Smith said. "Once we put him in the mix, he really showed what he could do."
Smoker has started 24 games and thrown for 5,537 yards with 40 touchdowns and 25 interceptions during his first three years at Michigan State.