"After four years at ASU, it's been a long road but it's been a fun one, too," says Smith. "I got a chance to start last year, and each year since I started it's gotten better and better. This year's my senior year and hopefully I can end my career right."
After originally arriving to campus as a 245-pound freshman defensive end, the Chandler native, who has seen all his snaps at defensive tackle, has bulked up to 280 pounds and also made noteworthy strides in the classroom, earning his undergraduate degree last May.
As Smith enters his final year in maroon and gold, he enters the role of a senior leader after learning the tools of the trade by veterans he has backed-up during his ASU career.
"Michael Marquardt and Jordan Hill really helped teach me the defensive tackle position and I also got a lot of help from Kyle Caldwell – that guy is an animal," says Smith. "This year, the coaches expect me to be a vocal leader on the defense, especially because there's still an opening for who will start beside me at defensive tackle. "
With Marquardt departed after his two-year Sun Devil career, Smith because the defense's elder statesman, and will help facilitate the transition of a new starter at defensive tackle, which is still up for grabs among a host of competitors including former University of Arizona transfer Dave Bertrand, sophomores Jonathan English and Saia Falahola and junior college transfer Spencer Gasu.
"I hope (the newcomers) can help us on defense," says Smith. "As a defensive tackle, I can only play so many snaps before we need to rotate, so it's huge to have a solid back-up, and even a third-string. For those guys to be able to help us makes the rest of us work even harder. My starting spot isn't set, even as a senior, so I have to show up and compete everyday just like everyone else."
With 41 career tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks on his Sun Devil career resume to date, Smith enters his senior season fired up and focused, while looking ahead only to the season's first game and his first opportunity in the final season of his collegiate career as a veteran leader and solid, contributing starter.
"As a team, we're really hungry and we just want to get out there and come together as one unit and to show that our defense is for real," says Smith. "I can't wait to unleash on NAU. After the first week (of practice) it won't be fun to hit our own offensive linemen anymore."
From an undersized, under-recruited defensive end to a two-year starter in the Pac-10 Conference and a college graduate; David Smith's Sun Devil career can definitely be classified as a pleasing one, and all hopes are that the best has yet to come.
"I've had a good career, I haven't been the biggest talked-about defensive tackle but I haven't missed games due to injury," says Smith. "I've always done what the coaches have asked. This is my last year here; I just want to stay healthy, have fun and hopefully we can make it to a BCS bowl game."
Joe Healey is a 2006 graduate of Arizona State University and a guest contributor to Devils Digest. He is also a feature writer each month in Maroon and Gold Illustrated and has contributed to ASU media guides, press releases and other official athletic publications. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.