DALLAS - It's hard not to notice the change in Geno Smith. It's apparent right from the time he walks into a room full of people, which he did more than a few times Tuesday during the Big 12's football media event here.
Everyone wants to talk about the mental improvement West Virginia's senior quarterback is expected to make after spending a year in Dana Holgorsen's offensive system. And, indeed, that's expected to be significant - so much so that a guy who set a slew of school passing records a year ago is being counted on to improve even more.
That is such an accepted fact that he was chosen as the Big 12's preseason player of the year before ever taking a snap in the league.
That's not the change that's so noticeable on the surface, however. It's Smith's size and cut that command attention now just a week before West Virginia's players report for preseason camp.
The skinny kid who threw for 4,385 yards and 35 touchdowns last season? He's been replaced by a 6-foot-3, 225-pound rock who looks like he could step into an NFL camp instead of a college one and fit right in.
And, truth be told, that's entirely the reason for the change. Smith abhors running the football, so he's not getting bigger and stronger in order to become like Shawn Alston, WVU's bruising tailback. And he's never been one to worry much about shedding tacklers in the pocket.
"Other than it probably makes me a better NFL prospect, I don't think it does much for my game,'' Smith said. "Maybe I'll feel different and maybe I won't.''
But it certainly can't hurt, right?
"I've never been big on shedding guys. I don't break a lot of tackles,'' Smith said. "I'm not one of those guys who's going to sit here and say my game is all based on my physical talent. It's mostly mental. I do have talent and I am a guy who's athletic and can get outside the pocket. But I'm not Shawn Alston and I'm not trying to be [Baylor's Heisman Trophy-winning] Robert Griffin. I'm just going to be Geno Smith.''
Just a bigger, stronger version. While Holgorsen has no problem with that - he encouraged Smith's body building - it wasn't with any specific goal in mind.
"We haven't won a game this year yet so I don't know if it does us any good or not,'' Holgorsen said of Smith's added strength and bulk. "But it's not going to hurt.''
That Smith, after three years at West Virginia, is finally beginning to look the part of an NFL quarterback off the field as well as on might surprise some. Holgorsen said he's talked to people who have known Smith for years and wondered if he would ever bulk up.