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Adversity can't slow Ravens' WR Smith

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 6:04 p.m.
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith dives for extra yardage in front of the Steelers' Ike Taylor in the fourth quarter at Heinz Field on Nov. 18, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On game day, Torrey Smith is a whirlwind of dreadlocks, speed and big-play catches.

None of this provides a hint of the hurdles he had to overcome to become the deep threat the Baltimore Ravens needed to make it to the Super Bowl.

After helping his single mother raise six other children, a chore that included working after school as a teenager, Smith accepted a scholarship to Maryland. He played three seasons, scoring 22 touchdowns — including three on kickoff returns — before throwing his name into the mix for the 2011 NFL Draft.

Smith was selected in the second round by Baltimore, and he quickly displayed the ability to get downfield, although his inexperience resulted in several costly dropped passes.

Early this season, Smith rarely dropped a ball. But tragedy struck less than 24 hours before the Ravens faced New England on Sept. 23: Smith's brother, Tevin Jones, was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Smith left the team to join his family, then returned to catch six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns to help Baltimore earn a 31-30 victory.

“Incredible,” teammate Jacoby Jones said. “I'm not sure many people could perform under those circumstances, let alone play so well.”

Smith finished the regular season with eight TD catches. In the second round of the playoffs, he twice burned cornerback Champ Bailey for long scores in the Ravens' 38-35 playoff win over Denver. Smith contributed four catches for 69 yards as Baltimore defeated New England, 28-13, to advance to the Super Bowl.

“We talk about the cauldron of competition and the fire that refines us,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “To me, Torrey is the perfect example of how the right kind of person is made of the right kind of stuff.”

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