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Devon Smith has been no stranger to making an immediate effect on the football field when he lines up.

In just one season of playing high school football at Westlake he led the program to its first-ever state championship in 2008.

Smith went on play three seasons at Penn State University, helping the Nittany Lions to three straight bowl games.

The 2009 Westlake graduate transferred to Marshall University after his junior season and sat out in 2012.

At 5-foot-7, 155 pounds, Smith had a sensational senior year and capped it off by helping the Thundering Herd to a 31-20 victory against the Maryland Terrapins in Friday afternoon’s Military Bowl at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The game was aired live on ESPN.

Smith helped lead Marshall (10-4 overall) to its first 10-win season since 2002 and also a Conference USA East Division title.

He was one of 17 seniors that concluded their college football careers on a high note for the Thundering Herd.

“First off, I would like to say how proud I am of our football team, coaching staff both offensively and defensively,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said in school a press release. “Our senior group is a special one. They played their best football this season and translated this season’s success into a bowl win. I am very proud of how they [seniors] played in all three phases, and it is a great way to send the seniors out and the momentum into next season.”

“It was real special to be a part of a big game like this with my family and friends back in Maryland,” Smith said. “It was a lot of people that came out and supported me, and we just wanted to put on a show for everyone. It was a big win for us versus a good team from the ACC and a great way to end the season.”

“It was exciting to see Moo Moo finish his college career with a bowl victory,” former Westlake football head coach and athletic director Dominic Zaccarelli said. “It is more exciting to know he had five receptions and several punt returns.”

Behind the prolific performance of junior quarterback Rakeem Cato, who completed 28 of 44 for 337-yard and three touchdowns, Smith contributed five catches for 54 yards.

“I just wanted to take advantage of my opportunities and put the team in a great position to win. I used my speed to keep the chains moving,” Smith said. “I’ve played in a bowl game every year, and this one was even better because I was back home.”

With his blazing speed, cut backs and vision, Smith was key wide receiver in Marshall’s passing attack and was an explosive punt return specialist this season.

Smith finished with 39 receptions for 653 yards and four touchdowns — averaging 16.7 yards a catch in his senior campaign.

He averaged 14.7 yards a punt return and recorded one touchdown, which was a 77-yard score.

In his college career, Smith finished with a 95 catches for 1,448 yards and seven touchdowns.

“This was my best season of my career, and being at Marshall was great. The coaching staff and the players made me feel like home, and to end this season the way we did was special,” Smith said. “All the hard work paid off in the offseason, and we came together as a team to win ballgames. I grew up wanting to play for Maryland, but to actually play against them and beat them felt good.”

“He received his degree which was awesome,” Zaccarelli said. “I’m very proud of him and all that he has accomplished.”

ajmason@somdnews.com