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On Friday morning, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz passed each other in the stairwell.
Hortiz had a “gut feeling” on a player the entire Baltimore staff liked. He thought Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith would make it to Baltimore at pick No. 58.
“I was a skeptic,” Harbaugh said. “I think my comment was, ‘There’s no way.’ I may have added a word or two in there too.”
For much of the pre-draft scouting process, Smith was projected to the Ravens – in the first round. As the process went on, however, his stock dropped into the early to middle second round.
But he never fell in the Ravens’ eyes.
Smith was one of the Ravens’ red star players, a distinction earned when a scout believes that player exemplifies everything Baltimore looks for in a player. Each member of the scouting department only gets to designate one red star player per draft.
“You saw the celebration when they had Torrey on T.V.,” Harbaugh said. “I want you to know there was a bigger celebration in our draft room when we got this player. This is a guy that from the beginning we saw on tape, he fits us. He’s our kind of guy.”
Harbaugh said he was handed The Washington Post feature story on Smith during draft meetings about two months ago. It details Smith’s turbulent and violent childhood in which he was left largely raising three younger siblings at age 7.
In the article, former Maryland football head coach Ralph Friedgen said of Smith, “God created a perfect person.”
Harbaugh said he got choked up reading the story.
“My thought was, ‘We’ve got to find a way to make Torrey Smith a Raven,’” Harbaugh said. “This guy is what this organization is all about.”
Smith said he had a “good feeling” that he was going to be a Raven, from his meetings with the team at his pro day and a private interview with the team at their Owings Mills facility. He also has an engaged Ravens fan following on Twitter (@TorreySmithWR).
Smith was wearing a Ravens shirt when ESPN’s cameras captured his celebration with his family in Fredericksburg, Va. He said he had other teams’ shirts, but Baltimore’s was sitting on his mother’s lap – a special designation.
It’s safe to say, there was a mutual fondness between the Ravens, fans and the local boy well beyond pick No. 58 in the second round.
“Baltimore is basically home for me being that I was at College Park,” Smith said. “I understand how the Ravens fans are and I understand how they feel about the Steelers and I’ve seen if for myself. … The Ravens fans are always sending me messages telling me they want me to come up there and play for them.”