Alabama junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower is one of the best defensive players in the country and he also knows just what the opponent brings to the table.
That's why in addition to complimenting Arkansas tackle Mitch Smothers, Hightower (6-4, 260) basically said that Crimson Tide would be taking dead aim at the true freshman from Springdale.
Smothers (6-4, 296) – who chose Arkansas over Alabama - doesn't seem fazed by the attention.
"It is a team effort and there are ten other guys out on the field," Smothers said calmly after practice concluded Tuesday. "It's not just me. If they come after me, there are 10 other guys out there that can make plays.
"I think I am pretty ready," Smothers added. "You just have got to block it out and do what you do."
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson certainly has faith in Smothers, the first freshman offensive lineman in Razorback history to start his first game.
"He's been in three games so the jitters are gone," Wilson said. "We will all be prepared. He'll be prepared. Every player who goes out there will be ready and do their job."
Smothers does indeed believe he has made a lot of progress since stepping on campus.
"I feel like I have gotten a lot better since camp and of course the first game," Smothers said. "I am getting better every week on my technique and my assignment. I will just keep working on it."
It's clear that Smothers' fellow offensive lineman Grant Cook has his back.
"Mitch is doing great," Cook said. "They can say whatever, we'll just worry about what we do. Besides, I'm his wingman. I am playing guard right next to him. I got his back no matter what. I'll be in his ear, making sure he knows what to do. He's going to be just fine."
Smothers likes having Cook alongside him.
"He has been great with me not knowing my assignments one hundred percent," Smothers said. "He makes crucial calls and it is big having a fifth-year senior in there."
Razorback guard Alvin Bailey likes what he has seen out of the youngster.
"He comes out every day and works hard," Bailey said. "He is a physical guy and as long as he gives his best effort we can live with that."
Arkansas center Travis Swanson also sounds impressed.
"He is a young guy and he has got to get some experience there, but this game will be good for him," Swanson said. "Up to this point, I think he has done a very good job and it will continue to be a process for him throughout the season."
Swanson noted that the key to playing your best in a hostile environment is one thing.
"Personally I just think about the field," Swanson said. "You don't look around. I don't pay attention to anything but who is on that field and what I have to do."
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