For the last time in his college career, Arkansas senior defensive end Chris Smith (6-3, 268) is about to begin a fall camp.
After a career that has seen big-time team highs his first two years and a violent crash back down to earth last season, the preseason All-SEC first team selection can't wait.
"We have completely flushed what happened last year out of our system," Smith said of tumultuous year that saw the team go from 11-2 campaign to a 4-8 one. "This is a new team, a new day, a new coaching staff and a new mindset. We are ready to move forward and I can't wait to hit the field."
The Razorbacks officially report on Sunday – albeit almost all have spent the summer in Fayetteville - and will hit the practice field for the first time on Monday afternoon.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema – who has closed practice the first week – will give a media briefing after that first workout.
Bielema has been very outspoken about how he believes this team will finish better than the media's projection of landing in the SEC Western Division basement.
"Coach Bielema is outspoken and we like that about him," Smith said. "That is what we need – somebody who was going to come in here and give us hope and believe in us. He is a strong leader with a tough mindset. I think that is going to carry over to the season.
"He is going to be no nonsense and so are we," Smith said.
Smith, who had 25 sacks as a junior and 16 as a senior at West Rowan High in Mount Ullah, N.C., is even championing the underdog role.
"We are the underdogs and it is going to be a role that we take and run with," Smith said. "Everybody has written us off except the guys in our own locker room."
Smith is coming off a junior season where he took over a starting role and flourished with 52 tackles, 13 for lost yardage and 9.5 sacks.
He also had 12 quarterback hurries, four pass breakups and one forced fumble while earning honorable mention all-conference honors.
"I learned from the best – (former Razorbacks) Jake Bequette and Tenarius Wright," Smith said. "Over the last three years I have just been working hard. All the accolades are great, but that just gives me motivation to get better and see how good I can become."
Smith is now in that same teaching mode with a talented quartet of young defensive ends, who all look the part.
"We have guys like Brandon Lewis and Deatrich Wise and Jamichael Winston and Taiwan Johnson – all guys who all redshirted last year," Smith said. "They are all big, long guys that are going all be scary. They are already really good and improving every day and getting bigger in the weight room."
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