A Player's Perspective from Kaiden Smith

Kaiden Smith's first season at Appalachian State is over and he reflects on the experiences of a championship season, a memorable bowl trip, and the motivation to take his next steps. Now, Smith heads into his first Mountaineer offseason with a broader vision of App State expectations.

Rings Earned, Lessons Learned

Ending the 2016 season with a memorable bowl victory was the perfect way to close out year one as a Mountaineer. For many redshirt freshmen (including myself), it was the first time we had traveled with the team. As redshirt freshmen, almost all of our practice time is spent giving the starting offense and defense a look of what is to come on game days. This is an important aspect in preparing our team for victory and our hard work was not overlooked. Coach Satterfield told us scout team players that traveling to the bowl was our reward for the effort that we gave throughout the season and it felt good to be acknowledged for work that can easily go unnoticed.

This was an exciting experience for us all as the people of Montgomery welcomed us with open arms. Activities like the comedy show and pep rally were lively events that I know every member of the team will always remember. All of the festivities were enjoyable, but as a freshman I also learned valuable lessons during my time at the Camellia Bowl.

I learned why any away game for the Mountaineers is considered a business trip. Plenty of fun was had days prior to the bowl game, but the closer and closer to game time the more and more locked in our players got. Team meals were silent as players had laser-focus on the task at hand, beating Toledo.

The night before the game I had the privilege of listening to senior captain John Law speak to the defense. His words where moving as he was going into the last game of his college career, you could feel how much he cared about his teammates, the game of football, winning his final game. His passion was contagious as he even got me (a player who wasn’t even dressing out for the game) eager for kick off.

Fortunately, we won the Camellia Bowl sending the seniors off in the best way possible. Being Sun Belt Conference and Camellia Bowl champions in my first year with the program truly taught me the measure of hard work and devotion it takes to reach that level of success. The season had its ups and downs, but watching players continue to trust the process and work hard made it a very successful one.

My first season did not go exactly as I planned being riddled with injury, but I have gained pivotal insight on what it takes to be successful and can’t wait to contribute and carry on the winning tradition App State has established.

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