2017 elite prospect and four-star Jackson (Tenn.) University School offensive lineman Trey Smith has long been a coveted SEC talent, but Saturday's trip to Tuscaloosa was also a personal practice for he and his family.
It was the third Saturday in October.
"It was exciting, definitely a big game," he said. "My family, before I was even getting recruited, always made it a point to get to Alabama vs. Tennessee, that was just a Smith family game. It is a great rivalry, one of my favorite in the SEC.
"The atmosphere at Bryant-Denny was awesome, the fans were going crazy from start to finish. It was one of the loudest stadiums I've been to."
Perhaps the biggest difference in checking out the game this time around is who Smith is focused on while each team has the football. When it's the home-state Volunteers, his eyes are on young offensive linemen Jack Jones and Chance Hall. Otherwise, he eyes the No.1 offensive tackle in the 2014 class.
"Anytime I watch Alabama play, I'm zeroed in on Cameron Robinson. It doesn't really matter what play, I'm watching him," he said. "He's a dominant O-lineman, I think coming out he was atop his class or the top-rated. Just the way he plays, they say I'm sort of similar to him. Watching the way he plays, the way he uses his technique, I'm zeroed in on him when it comes to the Alabama offense.
"Cam, I thought he did a good job. I think sometimes (Tennessee defenders) Barnett and Vereen got the best of him but he's just so strong when it comes down to run blocking. I thought he did a great job, also. He's such a physical presence at offensive tackle."
Smith has often been likened to Robinson, especially when it comes to Alabama's pitch to him. He's beginning to see the reasons why.
"I sort of do," he said. "With Alabama, they say a lot of it has to do with the offense they run, it was very similar to what they ran at his high school. We don't pull any, so that's a major difference. I think a huge difference between me and him is size, too. He's higher, in the 300's and I'm in the 280's right now. Sometimes I do see similarities.
"I was at The Opening and I talked to (Former Cal lineman and Director of Football for The Opening) Todd Huber down there, and I brought it up to him. He said I do have flares and moments where I do look like him, I take that as a total compliment honestly. In my mind, he's one of the best right now, at least in college."
Mario Cristobal, UA offensive line coach, broke it down for Smith with video of late.
"I went to the film room and coach Cristobal showed me the progressions Cam made from his first time as a freshman to when he really started catching on," Smith said. "Cristobal said I'd be great in open space, and he showed Cam against Auburn taking out two guys, showing me the progressions. I don't know if he has it setup on purpose, but he had week-by-week progressions at how Cam got better. First week, a little bit sloppy, he's missing the blocks...week two he's getting the technique better. Week three, week four, he's getting the hands inside and getting everything going. And then he pancaked Dante Fowler.
"He (Cristobal) is just showing, 'you come to Alabama, there's no guarantee you'll start first year, or at left tackle, but we can make you into a Cam Robinson-type player.'"
"It's a compliment, an honor to even be held in the same caliber as that guy," he continued. "I take it with a grain of salt because I have to keep getting better every day. Maybe I can be there, possibly even better, only time will tell how hard I work."
Alabama's head man approaches it from the life perspective.
"What I like about coach (Nick) Saban, he's not just pitching football," Smith said. "He always wants to talk about life after football. He was telling me about successful people and what they do, like sacrifice, in order to be successful and what ordinary or mediocre people do. It opens your mind a little bit, you have to work harder to get what you want in this life.
"I thought coach Saban was awesome, he says I'm a top priority in the '17 class."
After Alabama sealed the win over its cross-division rival, many prospects were able to get a first-hand look at one of the most unique victory traditions in the SEC.
"The trip was awesome. After the game, one of my most favorite moments was to go in the locker room," Smith said. "It was a 100-year tradition, coach Cristobal was telling me, for the winning team to smoke a cigar. I went in there and everyone was smoking cigars, it was pretty funny. But to see everybody celebrating after the game, I thought it was great."
Smith, who plans on enrolling at his school of choice in January of 2017, is well-versed in all things Alabama and Tennessee. Ohio State, Florida State, Auburn, Stanford and Southern Cal represent just some of his other options which is part of the reason he says he has no leaders or favorites at this time.
Looking for a "prevalent" program he is comfortable at, where a strong relationship with the coaching staff exists, Smith says a potential decision could go down following his senior football season.