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Chuck Landon: Don't boo, Marshall fans, just say 'moo'

Apr. 04, 2013 @ 12:21 AM

Holy cow, his nickname really is "Moo-Moo."

When Marshall head football coach Doc Holliday referred to new wide receiver Devon Smith by that moniker recently, I thought, perhaps, I had misunderstood or heard wrong.

So, I went right to the horse's, er, bovine's mouth and asked Smith what his nickname is.

"Moo-Moo," he answered promptly.

Since the conversation was verbal, the phonetics left me in a quandary.

Uh, was it muumuu as in the comfortable house dresses older ladies have a penchant for wearing or was it moo-moo as in a cow?

"Yeah, like a cow," said Smith enthusiastically. "Just like a cow. It's spelled M-double-O."

Twice.

As in the educational game people play with small children. How's a cow go, Lexi? Moo, moo, she answers. And, then, pointing to a cow in the picture book and asking what it is. A moo-moo, she replies.

There you have it.

Now, how a Football Bowl Subdivision athlete who spent three years at Penn State before transferring to Marshall got such an, ahem, unusual nickname is an entirely different matter.

"It's something that my mom gave me," explained Smith, aka Moo-Moo. "So, I just kept it on throughout my career. Everybody started calling me that."

Apparently, he wasn't pulling my leg -- and, no, I wasn't wearing "cow kickers" -- because even Holliday calls him by that nickname.

"Yeah, everybody calls me that," assured Smith, who didn't appear to be milking it.

So, why did his mom, Cassandra Smith, hang that nickname on him in the first place? What was her motivation? Did little "Moo-Moo" maybe bawl like a calf?

"I guess when I was a baby," said Smith, "she just called me her little 'Moo-Moo,' so I just kept it all the way through all my football seasons."

Obviously, post-partum can be a very odd and difficult time for new mommies.

At any rate, that's why a 5-foot-7, 150-pound guy who is barely the size of a spare rib is called "Moo-Moo" in the very beefy world of major college football.

Get used to it, Herd fans, because it appears everyone will be hearing and calling his name a good bit during the 2013 football season.

Smith gave a strong indication of just that during a recent spring practice by catching a pass on a routine underneath route and, then, turning it into a breath-taking touchdown sprint.

Not bad for a guy running with a limp.

So, Moo-Moo, how is your hoof, er, I mean foot.

"It's getting better," said the senior slot receiver. "I'm still going through rehab. I had surgery on it and I'm still limping. I'm around 75 percent. I sprained my foot and was on crutches last season. Same foot. The same thing happened up at Penn State.

"I sprained my mid-foot. Then, I found out I had to have surgery when I got here. I'm just happy to be out here, now."

He's very happy, actually.

After being redshirted last season, reinjuring his chronic foot ailment, undergoing surgery and rehabilitation ... well, Moo-Moo is happier than a cow chewing its cud at milking time.

"Sitting out really increased my desire," he said. "Just knowing that this is my last year. ... just knowing what I've got to do to get to the next level and, hopefully, help my team get to a championship."

And how would that potential championship ring be engraved?

Devon "Moo-Moo" Smith.

How utterly entertaining.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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