Smith Glad Bessent's On Board With Tigers

Auburn assistant coach Melvin Smith talks about his cornerbacks and goes into detail on Kalvaraz Bessent.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn assistant football coach Melvin Smith said he is encouraged by the play of his new cornerbacks and noted that he is pleased that head coach Gus Malzahn is giving Kalvaraz Bessent a chance to play for the Tigers.

Bessent, who is from Camden County High in Georgia, signed with the Tigers in February. However, after being arrested in Florida in a car with three others and charged with possession of marijuana, Bessent’s status with the Tigers was in doubt. Since then the charges have been dropped and Bessent enrolled for classes at Auburn this summer.

“I am so glad that Coach Malzahn was forgiving and was willing to take a chance on him,” Smith said of Bessent. “I put myself on the line because I feel like I could help him.

“In my past I have had some guys who have needed my assistance,” Smith said. “Some coaches think players want a brother. I don’t. I think they want a mentor. I think they want somebody who can show them the way.

“That doesn’t ever imply they are perfect, but all I ever try to guarantee my players is a fresh Melvin daily that spends a lot of time here,” the coach said. “At 11 o’clock at night I ain’t fresh, but at 5 o’clock in the morning when I get up and at 7:30 I am fresh. I am a morning person.”

Smith noted that giving people a second chance is part of his “strong Christian” beliefs.

“I am proud of Kalvaraz,” Smith said. “He has really changed his body. He has gained about 10 or 12 pounds and I see a great future for him.

“There is a lot to Kalvaraz and maybe one of these days everybody will know it like I know, but he is a guy I am happy to have. He has got talent and I just think the sky is the limit for him moving forward.

“We have to educate our children daily on what they should and should not do,” the coach said. “The way things are right now those guys are like celebrities and they don’t always check their friends’ cars, they don’t always know what is in the car and they get in their with their buddies and their buddies don’t have anything to lose. That has happened to my son.

“My son is a senior in college right now,” Smith said. “He had an incident two years ago and it changed him. God gave him back to me. It really could have been bad, but his coaches didn’t throw him off the team. They suspended him, they didn’t give up on him.

“I heard a coach I have got a lot of respect for say that he doesn’t remember anything good happening to a player he kicked off. Everybody has always got the solution, but I don’t think getting rid of them all of the time is the solution.

“I like to train them first and teach them the right way,” added Smith, who said he has also been pleased with the other cornerback signees, Nick Ruffin and Joseph Turner.

Nick Ruffin

Auburn signed Turner out the California junior college league late in the recruiting process after Bessent was arrested.

“I really like them,” Smith said. “We took Nick and we are crossing training him (at the star position). Kalvaraz and Joseph are working strictly at corner. I see them getting better every day. They came in and had not been lifting weights and not been doing a good program.”

“They are eating better and their bodies look better,” Smith pointed out. “I believe you have to take care of yourself before you can move forward on the field, but they are making great progress. The beauty of it is I think we have a little depth at corner so we don’t have to rush anybody now.”

Auburn is in its second week of preseason workouts. The Tigers open the season at 3 p.m. on August 30th with a home game vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks.

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