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Mr. Smith Goes to School

10:46 AM EST, November 7, 2011

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Childhood is filled with conflicting feelings to start with. Imagine what it must be like for the poor kids at Forest Ridge Elementary, in North Laurel. The ones who follow pro football, anyway.

First off, they're on the border of the territories of Maryland's two National Football League franchises (the Washington Redskins don't play in the District, but in Landover). A kid in Laurel might not be sure whether to be a 'Skins fan or to root for the Baltimore Ravens.

Then there's the emotional roller coaster that is Torrey Smith.

The Ravens receiver rode to the rescue at Forest Ridge recently when a scheduled visit from another player fell through amid reports that the company that arranged it had fumbled on several such school assemblies after taking thousands in fees. Smith, a rookie out of Maryland, filled in a the last minute after he got a call from a parent who was one of his coaches at UM.

He undoubtedly made some personal fans that day, and might have even turned a few from the burgundy-and-gold to the purple-and-black.

But then came the Ravens' Sunday night grudge match against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which Smith went from hero to goat and back again.

A holding call against Smith on the first play from scrimmage negated a touchdown. Then, late in the game, when the Ravens were trying to rally from a four-point deficit, Smith dropped a pass in the end zone, and it looked as though Baltimore would again fall to its arch-nemesis.

But the former Terp redeemed himself a few plays later, beating a Steeler defender long to catch the game-winning touchdown.

Fans at Forest Ridge must have been doing more stomach flips than when the cafeteria served Tuna Surprise.